The Geologic Column

The Geologic column demonstrates the age of the Earth is at least hundreds of millions of years old, and by the intricate order of fossils demonstrates evolution. It is the atheist’s friend, refuting fundamentalist evangelicalism. So it is disturbing that six of my first nine Google results for “geologic column” are Creationist. First of those is “Ten Misconceptions about the Geologic Column” by Steven A Austin, PhD.

Creationists drafted the GC, he shouts! Well, before nuclear fusion was understood, Lord Kelvin calculated the age of the Sun as only thirty million years. Science can be wrong. He noted the “Denudation of the Weald” had taken 300m years, and wondered at the difference. That denudation remains controversial.

Adam Sedgwick, whom Austin names, was the son of an Anglican vicar, born 1785. He took holy orders. Yet he opened his lectures to women, and campaigned to allow non-Anglicans to enter Cambridge University. This progressive is a strange hero for a creationist. He described and named the Cambrian era based on physical characteristics of rocks unique to Wales, after research involving Charles Darwin as a field assistant. He believed in evolution- “We all admit development as a fact of history”- yet not natural selection, believing that there is a moral and metaphysical part of nature as well as a physical. He thought God was involved, but that did not make him deny the age of the Earth, or the progress of fossils over millions of years. He changed his mind about the Biblical Flood when certain deposits were shown to have been made by glaciers, not floods.

I don’t know whether anyone believes Austin’s “misconception No.3”, The strata systems of the geologic column are worldwide in their occurrence. Where would all that rock come from? It is a wonder that 0.4% of the Earth has all ten sedimentary systems. Elsewhere, earthquakes have folded rock from under the surface over later rock, so that the strata may be upside down or vertical; the upper rock may erode, over hundreds of millions of years.

This means there are doubts, as with the Weald. Particular rocks may be dated in different ways: radiometric, or by the position of fossils. Austin calls this “special pleading”- yet while the date of any particular rock formation might be disputed, the general idea that rocks form in strata over millions of years, and may be dated radiometrically or by fossils is clear.

I would have said “indisputable”. Someone with no regard for truth, or for the integrity of the scientific community, clearly may dispute them. Austin has accumulated knowledge: the Cambrian System on an intercontinental scale is typically composed of quartzose sandstone, overlain by glauconitic sandstone with dark-brown shale, overlain by impure, light-brown limestones.

Some of his dissembling is only thinly disguised by the use of specialist words. Some fossils appear to be distinctive of certain systems [but] (most fossil taxa range through a few to several systems), he says. A taxon is a classification: Chordata, having a spinal cord, is a taxon of animals since the Cambrian.

Ken Ham’s picture may give some part of the motive.

l morality based on Bible

Beside the lie that only bad people, who if they were ever worshippers were never true Christians, would be gay, have an abortion or need a divorce, the lie that the geologic column is consistent with literal belief in Genesis 1 is tiny. Jesus warned against such people. The illusion may be comforting until the hapless believer is “bad”, suffers terror of being discovered, then is cast out.

7 thoughts on “The Geologic Column

  1. Bing.com gives even worse results: 8 of the first 10 sites are creationist sites. The other two are Wikipedia entries for Geologic time scale (ranked 2nd) and Stratigraphic column (ranked 8th).

    I find it astonishing that so much effort is put into “proving” the Bible is an accurate historical document. Of all the things the Bible might be, being an accurate historical document is not one of them in my opinion.

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    • Yes.

      Why the desperate need to prove a falsehood? Those writing the creationist articles have some familiarity with the evidence, the history of its discovery and theorising about it, and should clearly see that the world is at least hundreds of millions of years old. They cling to some totalitarian, single understanding of the World, of Good and Evil in which they are firmly Good and those who disagree Evil or deluded; where they know the Rules, such as, No Gays; they spit on the beauty and diversity of God’s creation.

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  2. When I was a believer, I had little trouble reconciling science with religion as I hope most believers do. Fundamentalists seem to have the need to take something that was written by many people, translated numerous times, heavily edited, as fact with no room for maneuvering or interpretation. Even though they have interpreted the words to substantiate their beliefs. No two people see or understand virtually anything in exactly the same way so why can’t they understand the possibility of a different viewpoint?

    I went to a Lutheran affiliated college and had to take several religion (or religious philosophy) courses in order to graduate. They were very informative and challenged me intellectually (not hard to do as anything intellectual is a challenge for me) to study and think upon the spiritual things in life.

    As a species we are always learning more. To stop learning and assume that “the flood” created geologic strata is silly. To twist science into something to back up a preconceived notion is foolish. Yes, the information changes and is constantly being adjusted and added to in order to better understand our physical world. Sometimes ideas need to change when they don’t fit the facts. It is all part of learning, a process that should never stop for any of us.

    I was “Witnessed” last weekend by an old friend who has a specific set of beliefs. He is a decent man with whom I have gotten along with for many years. While we don’t see eye to eye on religious beliefs, it is okay that we don’t share those same beliefs as the world continues to spin on its access no matter what any of us believe.

    Do I make any sense?

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    • Yes you make sense. Of course you make sense.

      I feel that those who try to impose a view of the Bible on it, that it is not contradictory, and that it is literally true, dishonour it. As well as the geologic column, they have to shut their eyes to the complexity and beauty of the Bible. I have met literalist creationists, one was a trans woman who had found a community which accepted her- perhaps that made her accept their beliefs. It is surprising, and pleasing, that they accepted her transition. We found we disagreed about that, and talked of other things.

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  3. WRT the Geologic Column, I’ve been to a place where you can see more of the column than anywhere else on earth: The Grand Canyon. But you know what? It’s upside down. Sorry! Not to burst your bubble or anything, but you’re relying on something that is mere “Observation” and has no supporting theories behind it. I’ve also been to places where enough material was moved in a single day to FILL THE GRAND CANYON (Mt. St. Helens). Geologic processes are not slow, they are CATASTROPHIC and quick! These types of things happen only infrequently, but when they do – look out!

    I’ve also been to a place where hundreds (if not thousands) of “Dinosaurs” were buried at the same time. A place called Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado. What strikes you is that there are so many, so well preserved, and that they are seemingly all just jumbled together, piled on top of one another. And then it hits you – they were! They must have all been killed (drowned?) at the same time and buried by some massive catastrophe (maybe a flood?). Gee, the more I see and understand of this world, the more I believe the Bible actually.

    Here, read further on my WordPress site:

    https://sdebeaubien.wordpress.com/2016/03/03/contrived-stories/

    Have a blessed day!

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    • Welcome, and thank you for commenting. God bless you too.

      Seeing a Catastrophist position as opposed to or inconsistent with a Uniformitarian/Gradualist one is outmoded. Understanding has moved on. The Chicxulub impact is clearly a catastrophe; the history of nine orders of trilobites, with 17,000 known species, over more than 270 000 000 years, beautifully arranged in the geologic column according to their evolution by natural selection, is a clear example of gradual development- until their end in the catastrophic mass extinction at the end of the Permian.

      How could St Paul write something inerrant and directly inspired, yet only “see through a glass, darkly”?

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