Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Geology of the Genesis Flood

The Institute for Creation Research is at it again--this time with a paper purporting to explain the tectonics of the Genesis flood. They are trying to take something that on it's face looks like science, in this case geology, and subvert to serve their ends. By avoiding biology and their evolution bogeyman, the thinking is that they side step any "Scopes" references and get one step closer to having their a priori wordview accepted as a posteriori science.

The thing is, geology as a scientific discipline is just as rigorous as biology (ask any of the geologists I used to work with). One of the bedrock principles of modern geology is the principle of uniformitarianism, which, simply stated, posits that the same processes that shaped the earth occurred then as they do now. This principle, when first elucidated in the 19th century was just as controversial as Darwin's theory, even though it is basic common sense. Occam's razor and all that.

Now if things occur in the past the way they now, that sort of rules out the flood doesn't it (not too mention a total absence of evidence in the archeological record). I mean, where did all the water (and resulting sediment) go? Did both miraculously dissappear into thin air. I don't see much of that happening today, do you? The only thing miraculously dissappearing is sanity.

In fact, the only thing in geology that would get them any closer (and only a very little bit at that) is the tectonically destroyed historical continent Pangaea, but that would open the door to the geological and palentological concept of time that they so detest because it allows the amount of time evolution would require--way more than the biblical 6,000 years.

Now naysayers of science would counter that the story of the flood spans so many cultures that it must be true--universalizing what was originally a local legend into a universal truth. Think about it, if the Tigris and Euprhates river valley experienced a 500-year flood, it certainly would have seemed like the end of the world to that localized population, and would be long remembered. The fact that other cultures have similar stories doesn't matter a whit. Most human civilizations began in flood plains. Floods happen in flood plains. Ergo, every once of these early civilzations probably experienced such a flood separately, and (to underscore my point) at different times.

The story of the flood serves a useful moral purpose in the building of religion, but I wouldn't advise using it as a meteorological report, much less geology.

UPDATE: Well, the Kansas School Board has gone and done it. They've redefined science so that it no longer is limited to the search for natural explanations of phenomena (Webster's be damned).

Maybe we should revisit this definition as well:
su·per·sti·tion. Pronunciation: "sü-p&r-'sti-sh&n. Etymology: Middle English supersticion, from Middle French, from Latin superstition-, superstitio, from superstit-, superstes standing over (as witness or survivor), from super- + stare to stand
1 a : a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation b : an irrational abject attitude of mind toward the supernatural, nature, or God resulting from superstition
2 : a notion maintained despite evidence to the contrary
To make it:
su·per·sti·tion. See science.
The theory of Intelligent Falling is set to take off now. Gravity, like evolution, is only a theory after all. With 61,100 Google hits, it must be onto something.

NP: "Forbidden City" - Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros

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