Genesis by Charles Clough
Series:Thinking More Deeply About the Bible, Science, Reason, & Language
Duration:1 hr 0 mins 1 sec

© 2017, Charles A. Clough

Thinking More Deeply About the Bible, Science, Reason, & Language

The Geologic Column’s Conundrum

Beth Haven Church Creation Conference
Charles Clough Lesson 3
May 13, 2017

One of the things that I would like to say before we get into the geology, following up on Dr. Baurain’s discussion, you noticed that in both my presentation and Dr. Baurain’s, we’ve emphasized the fact that the Bible writers are all arguing that there is an eyewitness here; God is eyewitness of one thing; we are eyewitnesses of Jesus, and so on, and that legally involves the category of assertions called “testimony,” and testimony is something that when in court systems, one of the categories of the testimony is the integrity of the person giving the testimony.

If you think about Judaism particularly, and you think about the fact that this is a Jewish book; what is the Ninth Commandment? Thou shalt not do what? Commit perjury; and so you have the irony here that we’re arguing that in all these compromises that these Jewish authors, and they’re all Jewish authors; they’re violating the Ninth Commandment by testifying, testifying, and it’s a myth.

It is so ironic that where some evangelical scholars are arguing that Genesis 1 is sort of an ancient Israel polemic against the pagan mythologies. Yeah, but you’re saying it is a mythology and so you’re just replacing one myth with another one. So, it’s really a tragic time frankly and intellectually and ethically I think inexcusable because we have more evidence of a literal validity to Scripture in our day, right now, than any other generation of Christians all the way back to the time of Paul. So it’s almost a kind of inversion of what things should be.

Now we’re going to look at the geologic column and again, we want to review these basic principles because we just can’t think about this enough. We are always in this white area and we have to keep reminding ourselves that there are no eyewitness observations of unobserved history, by definition, and that means we have to resort to conjecture.

We shouldn’t be ashamed of having to do this, it’s just that’s the logical position. So the fact that we are making conjectures isn’t the problem. The problem is if we mask our making of conjectures as the same kind of science that we’re doing operationally, that’s where there’s an ethical problem of disclosure going on. So that’s why we have tried to emphasize—that we are looking here at conjectures about history. And in order to make those conjectures we have to make religious decisions; yes, religious decisions.

Naturalism, as I’ve said before, is not called a religion but it is, and we said that you only have two religious systems here, two traditions that have gone on, and ultimately the biblical, the rubbing point, the sticking point, about the biblical view of reality is that it compels ultimate responsibility for sin. I am ultimately, and you are ultimately, responsible and accountable to our Creator, Judge, and Savior, and that’s heavy stuff, and that is a spiritual thing.

The problem with the Bible is it’s not that we lack evidence. The objection to our position is the kind of evidence we are putting forward, and the kind of evidence we are putting forward makes everyone ultimately responsible. It’s not that smart people can’t justify their position ethically, epistemologically, and metaphysically, it’s just that they’re reluctant to do so because they know where it’s going to lead and that makes them aware that they are ethically unacceptable to God. That’s Adam and Eve; we flee to bushes when we sense that about ourselves.

So trying to discuss this whole creation thing and avoid what we’re seeing here, we don’t get anywhere. We have to get here and see what the issue is: Are we ultimately responsible or are we just a victim of nature? That’s the bottom line in all of these discussions and we have to choose that.

One of the other things that I’ve tried to emphasize too is that naturalism is a religion and it is a religion for these reasons:

  1. It’s making a metaphysical assertion about what is real, what is possible in history. If we have to make a decision and we have to in conjectures, we have to have some envelope of the possible; what is possible and what is not possible. In order to answer that you have to come up with some sort of metaphysical assertion and the moment you’re doing that you are engaging in a religious issue, so stop calling it science. It’s a religious issue and let’s get honest about this and stop covering up the discussion.
  2. It makes an ethical statement that says that we shouldn’t have the Bible in science courses. Why not? What is your standard that argues that that’s wrong? What’s your ethical standard? I challenge you to articulate to me the ethical standard you are sent using to make the ethical judgment that it’s wrong to bring religion into the science classroom. They haven’t even thought through the religious standard they are using.

So this is why it’s important, and the Supreme Court has argued this, that it’s a point of legal justice that naturalism, humanism is a religion; it’s a nontheistic religion, but it’s a religion. People don’t like to hear that, particularly naturalists don’t like to hear that, but that’s what they are and we have to point that out.

Now we can come to the geologic column, and we have the basic overall scheme and all kinds of details to this but I’m going to just hit the highlights because again, we’re talking in terms of the methods that are being used here. Over the years since (Charles) Lyell’s (1797–1875) day for the last 150–200 years, there has developed this idea that there’s an upward sequence to rock layers.

There’s the Paleozoic; the old living area based on the fossils. Then there’s the Mesozoic and there’s a Cenozoic and these are the large and the average time scales; if you go to a geology textbook, that’s what you get. So that’s what we’re talking about when we’re saying there is a column.

The problem is first how the column is generated, and we’ll talk about that, and then we want to look at whether the column is actually present in different places. Well, how is this constructed? Going back to the early days, and we’ll get into more detail in a moment, the early geologists observed the case that certain strata have certain fossil ranges in them. It also has a certain kind of style of rock; a certain kind of matrix for those fossils.

When they saw, say, XYZ fossils in this strata over here, say, in the UK, in England, and then they saw it over in Germany, they would correlate those two rock strata. So the rock strata were correlated across the globe on the basis of the presence of fossils and the matrix of those fossils. That was one, and then you have the idea of superposition; the idea that higher layers were deposited later.

So you have those two principles, superposition and correlation. As to the fossils themselves, obviously, as it’s been stated several times, fossils are dead things and so biblically we have to place that after the Fall or we have to invent some previous Fall. So you’re dealing with death when you’re dealing with fossils. You’re also dealing with creatures that have been made and they’ve been buried under water.

So again, death and buried under water, and this is why the church fathers like Tertullian (155–240), (John) Chrysostom (349–407), and Augustine (354–430), all said and identified fossils. Fossils were known in their day, it’s just that, ironically, it was the pagans who said that those fossils in the rock were a kind of spontaneous generation; those are life forms that were generated in the rock.

It was the church Fathers and the Christians that argued no, the fossils were the result of Noah’s Flood. So this again, I’m emphasizing all this on a timescale because these arguments predate modern science; these arguments have been going on for centuries and centuries prior to modern science.

Then we have the fact that by Darwin’s (Charles Darwin, 1809–1882) day, and this is the important point as we deal with the column here, it was the geological column and the controversies around this that established an old earth; it wasn’t evolution.

Darwin came in 1859; we’re talking about Lyell in 1820 and 1830. So we’re talking about the fact that he preceded Darwin by three decades. The idea of an old earth predates Darwin. Darwin knew Lyell and he read Lyell and he realized that it was good because if you can’t solve the problem of how life forms came about, maybe if we give it enough time it’ll happen. So we have what’s called “deep time” and something that some of us in the creationist movement are calling this: the “deep-time hypothesis.”

It started not with biology and evolution. It predated that and I’m making this point now because at the end of this talk I’m going to show the compromises that modern evangelicals are doing. If you read the modern evangelicals that are compromising Genesis, they think that the idea of geology and the rock strata is science, but evolution isn’t. See what they’re doing? They’re thinking that the problem started with Darwin; they’re not thinking that in fact the problem started back with Lyell.

A man named Terry Mortenson did his PhD in England. He went to England and he is one of the men that works for AIG (Answers in Genesis, up there in (Petersburg) Kentucky. I talked to Terry and Terry published his PhD dissertation and it was called, “The Choice of the Wrong Choices, the Great Debate” or something like that, and Terry’s point was that he went back to England to try to find the journals of the geologists who believed in the Flood, around 1800, who opposed Lyell, and he wanted to understand this and it was hard for him to find those source materials so he had to go to the libraries across the UK to dig out journals.

In fact, Terry found some of the families who are the fifth and sixth generations from those men. He had to actually go to interview the families to find their family libraries to get the journals out. It’s a marvelous PhD dissertation that Terry did and he’s very well up on what was going on around 1820 and 1830; it’s very useful material.

But here’s an interesting thing that was discovered by a creationist-biologist who was confined to a wheelchair and the poor guy couldn’t get out in the field to do field studies because of his handicap and so he would do a lot a library work. His name is (John) Woodmorappe and he did all of his work about 20 years ago and it’s an amazing kind of work because he spent thousands of hours digging up research reports and reading journals and he found an interesting thing.

This is a map of the world and it’s in black except that there are certain areas on that map where there are little white dots. What he was trying to discover with this map was to try to find where all 10 of the levels of the geologic column are actually found. One of the key ones he found out was up here in Poland; one is in Africa; there’s one in China; but those are the only spots we you see the total geologic column.

I think this gives you perspective on the fact that you don’t go out there in the field and find geologic column. You find pieces of it, but you don’t find the totality except in those spots and this is a result of going through years and years and years of published journals.

So the question is, why don’t you see all 10 of them? If the geologic column is so important you’d think you would see the whole thing in many places on the earth, and you don’t. In fact, he concluded the fact that two thirds of the land surfaces have five or less of the 10 periods in the geologic column. Two thirds of the earth’s surface has less than five parts of the geologic column where you can go see it and only 15% to 20% of the earth’s land surfaces have three periods in the right order and some of them are inverted.

So the question then comes, why if this column is so important, why do we only have 15% to 20% of the earth surface where you even have three in the right order? Why is it that you have gaps between them where you have one thing, then it’s missing three or four layers, and then another one, what is going on with that? So the argument that Woodmorappe is making here is that this idea of an intact geologic column is a generalization of a lot of observations, but it is not something that you go out and find in the field other than in a few locations.

The other question about the column then is: When we look at the details are we looking at slow or rapid burial of the fossils? Think about this ... if the sedimentary layer is taking years and years and years to develop, what’s going to happen to a dead animal lying there over thousands of years? Is it going to encapsulate as a fossil? It’s got to rot; it’s got to be at least the depth of the fossil; it has to be quick, doesn’t it?

A few weeks ago one of my sons decided to take Carol and I on a trip to Luray Caverns, and these are big, big caverns; they’re some of the biggest caverns in the United States. They’re found along Interstate 81 in western Virginia, around Skyline Drive. You go in there and the guides take you through this fascinating cavern, about 200 feet deep. It was only found in 1870 or something. They’ve got it illuminated; they’ve got a pathway through this, and they give you all this talk about stalactites and stalagmites; about how the stalactites come from off the ceiling because water is leeching through and capturing the minerals and then hardening, and then you have stalagmites where it’s dripping and it forms the stalagmite building up from the floor.

As we’re going through there the guide is affirming that that’s 7,000 years, and so forth and so on, and I’m thinking in terms of solving the equations; about initial condition and rate, and as we’re walking through she has to admit; there’s a section and I’m looking down at the floor that we’re walking through and it’s dripping wet in some places but it’s absolutely dry in other places, and she has to say, “Well this is dry and this is an inactive period for this period.” Well how do you know, given any stalactite, what the rate of erosion was of the water drip that was encapsulating the minerals?

See they make these assertions but they don’t say, wait a minute, look, it’s going from here over to here; I can see two different rates. So how do we know that the rate was always the same for 7,000 years? We don’t.

Furthermore, a creationist years ago on the cover of the Creation Research Society Quarterly went into one cave, I think it was in Carlsbad, New Mexico, where he went in with his camera and he photographed a stalagmite that had a bat in it, actually it wasn’t even the whole bat it was just the bones of a bat that had been captured in the minerals and so we have a fossil. Now is its body going to be suspended on the top of the stalagmite for 7,000 years while it slowly accumulates?

It couldn’t be and so again that’s why I went to the equations of the candle. It gets back to those two things mathematically; you can’t avoid it. You’ve got to know the initial condition and you’ve got to know the rate and whether the rate has been constant over time and if you don’t have an eyewitness you can’t make that assumption. You have to guess at it and that’s a conjecture; you can’t solve the equation. So those are the things that happened with the column.

Now we want to go with the interpretation because as Dr. Baurain pointed out, it’s not the facts that we’re arguing about. This is not a discussion about facts; this whole creation-evolution thing is not a discussion about facts. It’s a discussion about the interpretation of facts.

How many of you have gone to the Creation Museum ( in Kentucky? If you go through that, and in recent years Dr. (Jason) Lisle who worked there and is now working at ICR (Institute for Creation Research,, he’s constructed the glass cases in that Museum with an interesting format. Like most museums, they have the exhibits there behind glass, but what he did was innovative.

He puts a plaque on one side of the glass window and you’re standing there and you’re looking at this glass window and there will be a plaque describing the interpretation of that data and those facts in the light of evolution and then the other one will be a plaque describing the same data interpreted within a creationist frame of reference. You walk through the museum, exhibit after exhibit after exhibit, and then it clicks with you that this isn’t about facts, this is about how we are interpreting the facts, and it’s kind of a self-learning process that he designed into the very exhibits which I thought was very, very clever.

So again to keep reminding ourselves, “operational science” is not the same as “historical science,” why, because historical science doesn’t have eyewitness data and it’s looking at one for all events, whereas operational science is repeating the experiment to verify things.

Let me look now at the history of geology a bit. The first period is from 1790 to 1820; that’s the heroic age of geology. Look at the dates 1790–1820; that’s when guys started working out in the field to look at the rocks and to start thinking about geological issues. Is that before or after Darwin? Timescale; when did Darwin write The Origin of Species? In 1859. Okay look at the dates when geology really began to get going; 1790–1820.

So you see historical geology preceded, significantly preceded, the biological issue of evolution and that’s important because it was the geology, not the biology and the evolution, it was the geology that created the old Earth idea, and the interpretation then was, in terms of the Flood and was also in terms of long ages.

What was going on intellectually in Europe from 1790–1820? Think about what the colonists, some of the people in our colonies, were doing. What was the difference between the belief system of Patrick Henry and the belief system of Thomas Jefferson? Patrick Henry was an evangelical Christian. He gave his famous speech, “Give me liberty or give me death;” it was all scriptural stuff packed in there, and so while he was an evangelical believer, then (Benjamin) Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, what were they? It begins with “D”; Deists.

Deism in 1790 was coming into popularity and you’ve got a deistic culture forming here just when geology is getting started. What is the heart of Deism? It is the idea that God created and let go. The Bible was rejected. This is when we had Unitarianism in others, the Bible was not considered to be an important book for these kinds of questions because Deists didn’t accept that. And so all the time this was going on, the idea of a real mature creation was in a minority, frankly, already by 1790.

Now let’s think about this in terms of eyewitness; let’s suppose you have a video camera; let’s suppose you take a time machine and go back to the Garden of Eden. You’re there when God is creating Adam from the dust of the earth. You arrive on the scene and you start your video camera just after Adam takes his first breath and walks around. Question: Looking at the video that you just captured of an immediately created Adam, how old would you say Adam was? Was Adam five? If you didn’t know that he had been created five minutes ago and all you had was a video of him walking around the Garden; and if you waited for the end of the sixth day and Eve was with him; so you have this couple, Adam and Eve, or Ish and Ishah; if you have that couple and you video them on a camera and you don’t know that they were created this day, how old did they appear?

Well, they would have an age that you would interpret because the facts are that you’ve got a human being man and a human being woman, and by the way not 42 different versions of gender; you have binary gender and you’re taking a picture of them and at that point you’re trying to interpret the fact of their existence but you don’t know they were created that day, so how old are they? Do you see the problem?

When you have creation you’ve got a mature system going and genetics has shown some things that Darwin never dreamed of in his day. Our bodies, the biological mechanisms, are so involved; so complicated. Just the cell itself is so complicated that you can’t have it partially there, the whole thing has got to be there and functional from the very beginning. The idea that I’m talking about here is “mature creation.” You can’t have an active creation that is biblical creation without it being mature.

I’ll give you an example from the New Testament: What did Jesus do at the wedding feast in Cana? What did He make? How old was the wine if you tasted it and you didn’t know it was supernaturally created? Wine has to be aged and do you remember what the guy that was heading the refreshments for the wedding said? He said, “Boy, this is vintage wine here; this is good stuff.” But it was only made 15 minutes ago. Jesus went off to a pot of water, and you think about what He did at that creation of the wine: where did the carbon atoms come from? Water is H2O; wine is made with carbon atoms. Where did the carbon atoms come from? I don’t know, but Jesus did it and He did it rapidly. It didn’t take a million years to make wine out of water; it did it instantly.

So the idea, it’s the idea we’re trying to grasp here; that when we talk about biblical creation we are talking about systems that are mature and functioning completely. In 1790 that idea was being suppressed because Deism was arising and the deistic god was so remote that they were free intellectually to think in terms of processes. So in 1790–1820 we have the heroic age of geology.

Now a point from Terry’s blog here: “Naturalism’s control of origin science did not begin with Darwin’s theory of evolution.” That’s one of the fundamental errors of evangelical scholars today and I’m going to give you quotes at the end where they are saying that it’s Darwin that’s the problem. No, it is not Darwin that’s the problem. He didn’t start the problem; it was started years before Darwin. He says, “Naturalism’s control of origin science did not begin with Darwin’s theory of evolution but over 50 years earlier with the idea of millions of years in geology. In the late 18th and 19th centuries deist and atheist scientists attempted to explain the origin of the world and unravel the history of rocks and fossils. They did so by rejecting the truth of Genesis 1–11 and using assumptions of naturalism.”

See how far back that went? That went far beyond Darwin. So go through the heroic age and then we have the great debate and the dates for this great debate, we call it the debate between geology and Genesis. It didn’t happen in 1960 with (Henry M.) Morris (1918–2006) and (John C.) Whitcomb (b.1924), it happened between 1820 and 1845. That’s the time when Lyell convinced most people that it was the naturalist interpretation of the geologic strata that forced an old earth.

They say about the depth of the sedimentary strata, “How could you have six deep rock layers thousands of feet thick by just a flood?” If you think about a flood, what do you suppose they think of when they think of an everyday flood? Maybe six or seven feet of water like they might have in Miami with a hurricane and so they say that that kind of a flood can’t produce this big strata; again it’s how you start mentally with this. They saw that the lower strata seemed to have strange fossils in it. They were primitive supposedly; basically submarine type fossils, and then you have the more mature, the more land animals, higher up, who probably escaped the floodwaters because they could move while the others were trapped as the waters rose.

If you want an example of how the Flood might have appeared, do any of you remember the Japanese tsunami (2011)? Do you remember the videos on YouTube of what happened with the tsunami coming into the Japanese landscape? Do you remember the videos where you see cars trying to flee this enormous water that just tears up everything and catches up with the people trying to escape in the cars? That, to me, is an example of what the early floodwaters probably looked like.

The Japanese tsunami, and my Japanese daughter-in-law pointed this out to me, the Japanese tsunami moved the entire archipelago of Japan. Remember Japan is not just one island, it’s a series of islands; in the first 15 minutes when that plate buckled under the Japanese coast, the entire archipelago of Japan moved eight inches. Can you think of the force? Think of the forces—mass times velocity squared here. Think of the force that it took to move the entire archipelago of Japan east eight inches; they had to remap stuff.

Why? The plates buckled, and that was just a small buckling. Do you suppose the fact that the tectonic plates, say Africa and South America, you know how they fit together? Can you imagine the boom that spread out? Think of what forces were involved in 15 minutes, moving Japan eight inches. That’s talking about a force we have never observed before; an amazing kind of pressure.

It goes back to the fact that work divided by time is power—that’s basic physics: work divided by time is power. What is the difference, in power terms, between the biblical Flood and historic geology? Which is low power and which is high power? It’s the same amount of work. The debate is over how fast the work was done, and therefore we’re talking about low-power events or high-power events, and when you see something like the tsunami that hit Japan, you’re looking at a high-power event. They are rare but when they do happen they’re awesome.

The Genesis geology debate went on and by 1845 Lyell had basically captured the journals. By the way, Lyell was a pretty wealthy lawyer. And, again, do you remember my comment about science and about funding? Who funded the first geology journal? Lyell and some of the wealthy people around him did. What do you suppose they did when a Flood geologist wanted to publish a paper? They controlled the journal. This is the dirty linen that kind of colors your view of how you learn science in school and it’s not that it’s wrong, it’s just that there are consequences to how you fund things and control things.

I’m doing research now on what (Thomas Henry) Huxley (1825–1895) did for Darwin. He formed what was called the “X Club” and their objective was to take over the journals. So this is how these guys took it; it wasn’t just an argument that went on, there was some political maneuvering that went on during this process.

There was a triumph of uniformitarianism and I want to show a slide about this. This is part of Terry’s thing and I’ll show you something about uniformitarianism itself. “The physical part of geological inquiry ought to be conducted as if the Scriptures were not in existence.” This is a citation by the way from Lyell. Look at his method; remember we’re talking method here. “The physical part of geological inquiry ought to be conducted as if the Scriptures were not in existence.” But if the Scriptures are reporting eyewitness evidence how does that affect your method when method is excluding eyewitness evidence from the very start?

Darwin wrote to a fellow uniformitarian geologist that he wanted to free science of the geology from Moses. See, when you read the original documents you see the motive going on here. This is not objective, impartial scientific advance; these were people, sinners and redeemed, fighting this out.

Darwin wrote, “He who can read Sir Charles Lyell’s grand work on the principles of geology, which the future historian will recognize as having produced a revolution in natural science and does not admit how incomprehensibly vast has been the past periods of time,” i.e., deep time, “may at once close this volume.” So Darwin said don’t even read me; don’t read The Origin of Species if you don’t already accept an old earth.

Darwinism was basically built on Lyell’s uniformitarianism but now here’s another little aspect that’s not often discussed: what does uniformitarianism really mean? Lyell, when he wrote, he wrote as though he was just a follower of Isaac Newton (1642–1727). He said, “All I’m doing is just applying uniformity of nature; didn’t we agree that uniformity of nature is the presupposition of science? I’m just following uniformity of nature here.”

But it really wasn’t and it took 150 years until Stephen Gould (1941–2002), a geologist at Harvard, began to decode the equivocation. This is 1980, 150 years later, and they realize, “Uh, oh.” Remember nouns and how important nouns are in language? Lyell was confused about what he meant by what was “uniform,” so Gould start asking are we talking about uniformity of law; are we talking about uniformity of process; or are we talking about process rates?

So immediately when you start asking these questions you say, uh oh, the noun uniformitarianism has three subparts; it can mean three different things. Lyell did not distinguish between the three different things so that led to further confusion. We can’t keep discussing these issues if we don’t define the nouns that are involved because our discussion, our comprehension, our conversation, requires a clear understanding of the nouns.

Uniformity of law means the presupposition of all science, i.e., if F=ma, then F=ma today, tomorrow, next week, and next year; that’s a law. Uniformity of process means the processes haven’t changed over time and the modern word for that is “actualism.” The modern geologist is talking about actual processes that we observe today, so now we’re not talking about the law we’re talking about, say, the process of erosion; the process of sedimentation; those kinds of things. Past processes are no different from presently observed processes and that adds a component to what Lyell was doing but he was masking it as though he was just following uniformity of science.

Then we have uniformity of process rates and that’s called “gradualism.” Gould and others have introduced these two other nouns to clarify what we are talking about. We’re going to throw out the term uniformitarianism because it’s too vague; it’s an equivocation. We’re going to instead substitute the word “actualism,” meaning that we have to interpret the geological strata by actual processes we observe today. Then we also want the gradualism, i.e., the processes are low-power, they’re slow processes, common to past and present at the same rates.

Okay, now we can begin to discuss things because we’re distinguishing elements in this work, but we now have logical problems. We have some empirical challenges to this; here are some, and there are gobs of these, but the geologic column remember is an interpretation of strata and it’s an interpretation based on actualism and gradualism. But now what we’re looking at, okay, if that’s what you mean by these nouns, that clarifies the discussions so now I can say let’s look at whether that works out.

Now here’s one: polystrate fossils. By a polystrate fossil we mean this: we’ll see a tree, maybe 50 feet of trunk, and we have layers of sediment. Here’s the question: If those layers took thousands and thousands of years to lay up, one on top of the other, how come you’ve got a tree trunk set in there, 50 feet long, that penetrates four or five of the strata? Try that one on for size; it would rot; it couldn’t be. So the 50-foot long trunk piercing three or four strata tells you that all three or four strata must’ve been deposited very quickly or the tree trunk would have rotted. So that was one of the problems that has been discussed and creationists have talked about it and photographed it.

Then you have a clearly catastrophic event, and by the way the polystrate fossils wipe out the theory of gradualism; it wasn’t a gradual deposition or the 50-foot trunk would have rotted. Then we have the Missoula floods in the Northwest; geologists are recognizing that somewhere in southern Washington State, northern Oregon and Idaho there was a breach of some big body of water that came cascading through and cut the Columbia River Gorge. And now even geologists have to argue that that’s the local catastrophism. But they have to recognize that it’s catastrophism, and if it’s catastrophism what does that do to the doctrine of gradualism? It wipes it out.

Then we have a clearly catastrophic event, the Mount St. Helens erosion and Dr. Steve Austin has done numerous videos of this. This was photo-documented: when the volcano blew you had stuff coming down off that mountain and they timed it on video camera at 90 miles an hour. That was chaotic stuff. It was water; it was tree trunks; it was rock strata of all kinds of diameter, but here’s the interesting, fascinating thing that Austin found out. After it came down at 90 miles an hour cascading down quickly, it was a nice, neatly laminar deposit in this thing now right at the base of Mount St. Helens, called the Little Grand Canyon, and for all the world you look at that thing and say this must’ve taken years and years to form; it’s all nice orderly stuff.

Now what has happened here is something called a “slurry mix” and slurry mix hydrodynamics are not well understood. I spoke to Dr. Austin; he’s got a $30,000 grant to try to figure out how to compute the hydrodynamics of a slurry mix; we don’t know because we haven’t seen a slurry mix work like this before. Now what does this do to the idea of actualism? Actualism says we have to interpret the geologic strata by processes we observed but now what we do when we discover a process like this? It wasn’t observed before; this is a new process that is going to change your interpretation. So do you see how this kind of thing is dependent on a new data?

Finally we have the clearly catastrophic event of the Grand Canyon where radioactive dates at the bottom and top seem to be inverted and again, that does away with actualism. We could go into those but I think you get the idea that we have problems logically once we understand the assumptions of uniformitarianism as a method.

So we’ll go into a conclusion here that uniformitarianism for 150 years, a hundred and fifty years from Lyell to Stephen Gould at Harvard, it took 150 years for them to agree on the meaning of the noun “uniformitarianism.” Now if we take 150 years to figure out what a word means, do you see how that retards understanding? Do you see how that confuses discussion if we’re not clear on the meaning of the nouns we’re using in our speech?

The other conclusion is that there are logical problems embedded in the whole geologic issue here and geologists are torn by this. Let me give you a quote and I think I put that in the handout. Here is (Joseph H.) Kravitz who was writing in the fabric of geology; look at the date of the book … 2013. Look at what Kravitz says: “It can be said that the geologist’s knowledge of the past is based upon pre-theoretical assumptions often of a metaphysical nature not susceptible to logical or empirical proof. In a certain sense, they are the products of the geologist’s imagination.”

Now that’s one of them; he isn’t a creationist, he’s a guy that’s working in the field and he recognizes that there is gradually dawning the fact that historical science is not the same as operational science and if we would just simply make that distinction we would clarify a lot of these discussions.

Finally, let’s close by turning to 2 Peter 3. Dr. Baurain left there and I’m going leave there because that’s a key passage: 2 Peter 3:3. I want you to notice a word pair that Peter uses in this passage. “Knowing this first, that there shall come in last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts.” “Walking after their own lusts”—see there’s the spiritual corruption that’s going on affecting them intellectually. “And saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.’ ” (2 Peter 3:4, KJV) Doesn’t that sound like uniformitarianism? Notice in verses 5, 6, and 7; look for the word pair “heavens and earth,” because Genesis 1 starts out, “in the beginning God created” what? “The heavens and the earth”.

Watch how Peter picks up that word pair and uses it. In 2 Peter 3:5, “For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water.” 2 Peter 3:6 is the catastrophe: “Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.” 2 Peter 3:7: “But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”

That word pair means universe and when we were studying Greek at Dallas Seminary I went up to Dr. S. Lewis Johnson (1915–2004), who was the New Testament department head at the time, and I said, doesn’t it look like 2 Peter 3:5, 7 are even more catastrophic than Genesis 6 and 7? And he said you know you’re right. They’re a universal word pair here. Peter is not talking just about planet Earth. He’s talking about the earth and heaven of the past; that they were different than earth and heaven today. That’s a pair that the Bible uses to equate how we use the word “universe.”

Here Peter is very cosmic; he’s not toning down the scope of his discussion, he’s enlarging the scope of the discussion. So when we think of these things we think of the Word of God and who is the LORD of history. Our God is a magnificent God; He is sovereign; He is providential; He controls history; and He will end us in an apocalypse and the apocalypse is going to involve the universe.

So that’s the catastrophic language and I think I will conclude there. Again I’ve covered very rapidly just the highlights of the geologic column because I want to focus on the causes and the vocabulary. So we’ll go ahead if you have questions.


Moderator: How many of you would say that you learned something new today about creation-based understanding? One of the things we were hoping for is that even though most of us in this room probably would say we’re already creation-minded or most of us even being “young” creation-minded, rarely do we understand the debate that is out there. One of the things we have to understand is that when we meet somebody, it’s kind of like saying to anybody, “Do you believe in Jesus?” and you get a response, “Yeah,” and going, “Wow, that’s fantastic!”

Then we would talk to Muslim because they believe in Jesus, too. A lot of times we don’t realize the debates that are happening out there and we have to at least have a framework, an understanding about what is out there in the world and what kind of questions are being out there and we need to be able to at least be able to within our own minds withstand the pressures that we hear on TV every single day.

I don’t care where we have it, if there are any questions about a medical situation or an archaeological find, every single one you find on any type of media, it’s always assumed to be evolution and very old and we have to be able to, even within ourselves, be able to articulate to ourselves why these things are not true.

Clough: One of the problems we have in our culture in America, and again I go back to my Japanese daughter-in-law, she says in Japan when they have a TV program on some weather thing or they have some climate thing or the tsunami, it goes into far more scientific detail than she ever sees here. Journalism in our country has become very shallow and the problem is that it’s so shallow that I was told by a guy that had done a presentation on marriage for journalists and he was trying to explain why evangelicals are against same-sex marriage and we had a big debate in Maryland about it and I’m sure you had here, and so he goes on 45 minutes and he explains the evangelical position and he quotes the book of Ephesians. He has a Q&A afterwards and one of the young journalists raises his hand and says, “Could you give me the author and publisher of that book you referred to called, Ephesians?”

Moderator: Does anyone have any questions?

Q: I’ve often heard the argument that’s a kind of circular reasoning where that they say the date of a rock is because of the fossils that are in it and the date of the fossils is because the rock layers that they’re found in. You seem to indicate that this was more the rock layer aging.

Clough: Well, it’s true I guess in some cases that there is a circular argument, but if you get into a detailed discussion with a geologist on this they’ll deny that and they’ll give you all kinds of reasons why it happened. I just think you have to be cautious because all this geology stuff was created, in other words, the engine got moving long before Darwin came up. So probably that has an effect, but in the discussions I’ve had they say that it’s not circular reasoning “because” and then they’ll cite the chronology of it. So you just have to be careful of it. I think you’re right generally speaking, there is a circular argument here, but it’s hard to execute that in the conversation with someone trained in geology.

Q: You mentioned that the subject of the geology is not presented as much as the biology aspect of evolution. Can you give us two or three reference works that could increase our understanding of the geology?

Clough: Of the geology or theology? The geology; I recommend you get exposed to some of the work that the creationist geologists, the Flood geologists, are doing. I’ll give you the names of the guys: one is Dr. Snelling at Answers in Genesis. Dr. Snelling has written the book that is a follow-up to back in 1961 when Whitcomb and Morris first proposed Flood geology. He has done a lot more work and I think it’s a multivolume set, but you go to on the web and you can see that book.

There’s another series of reports done on some of the creation journals by Michael Oard; his last name is spelled O-A-R-D. Michael Oard has probably traveled more in the last 20 years of his life going to field observations and he has individual reports and you can find most of these on the Creation Research Society website ( They have two publications: they have a Creation Research Society quarterly that comes out four times a year with reports; and then they also have a bi-monthly called, Creation Matters, and Michael Oard has done papers there.

There is also another Flood geologist called Dr. Read, R-E-A-D, and there is a third fellow and they’re all involved in this. There are internal debates and discussions, the Flood geologists are not uniform in the sense that they see there are different interpretations possible, but that gives you a flavor for what they’re doing, and it just takes a lot of time to travel; to sit there; camp out and do all the stuff; geology takes a lot of hard fieldwork and so that gives you a flavor for it. The advantage of Snelling’s book is that Snelling has worked with plate tectonics and he has a whole thing on plate tectonics and again high-power, not low-power, high-power geologic processes.

There was a man who did a lot of work at Jericho and one of my buddies, in fact, he came here years ago when you had one of the early pastors conferences when Chet was pastor; Glen Carnegie. He died early, but Glen had worked with one of these guys at Jericho and the fascinating thing was, because they found Jericho’s walls, they found a peculiar thing which was a window in the outside wall and they said this was unheard of in ancient walls because walls were military defense walls, but here they have one of the walls of Jericho with a window in it and you wonder if that’s Rahab’s place because where did she let the guys out? So again it’s kind of cool that they discovered where the whore house was.  

Well on that note let’s pray: “Thank you Heavenly Father for the wisdom and the minds of people we have studied. Through these subjects You will be able to enlighten us a little more to edify understanding, to help us gain more confidence in Your Word. It is Your Word; It is infallible; It is inerrant, and we need to be able to articulate that in the face of such opposition that never has been before. But also You have given us to combat that, more information than we’ve ever had before concerning the authenticity of Your Word. Help us to remain confident; to remain steadfast proclaiming throughout all the earth and to be able to stay steadfast until the end. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.”