Notes to the Geologist's Tale

1 Genesis 1:2,6-8; 7:11. The flat, domed Earth of the Hebrews was the commonly held conception of the universe in the ancient Near East (Anderson and Darr 1998, 407-409; Asimov 1981, 14; Murray and Buffaloe 1983, 465; for an illustration, see Scott 1999). Thus the Bible refers to the Earth's "foundations" (Job 38:4; Proverbs 8:29) and "four corners" (Isaiah 11:12; Revelation 7:1); "the pillars of the earth" on which God "set the world" (1 Samuel 2:8); "the pillars of heaven" (Job 26:11); and the spreading of the heavens "as a tent to dwell in" (Isaiah 40:22). The Hebrew word raqia, translated as "firmament," means hammered metal (Rad 1961, 51).

2 On plate tectonics, see Furnes et al. 2007; Oreskes 2002; Kious and Tilling 1996; and Alfred Wegener. On volcanoes, see How Volcanoes Work.

3 Wegener called his supercontinent Pangaea ("all Earth"). It is believed that such a continent existed some 225 million years ago, after smaller continents had slowly converged. These later broke up again, first into the continents Gondwanaland and Laurasia about 180 million years ago, and eventually into the present continents (Kutter 1987, 461).

4 Cloud 1988, 199. See the U. S. Geological Survey's Harry Hammond Hess: Spreading the Seafloor.

5 Strahler 1987, 212; Weisburd 1985b.

6 H. Morris 1985, 128.

7 Schadewald 1983, 28-30.

8 Futuyma 1982, 182.

9 Eldredge 1982, 41. See "The Biologist's Tale," lines 22-40.

10 Whitcomb and Morris 1961, 271-276; H. Morris 1978, 28; 1985, 111-120. Creationists have said that "polystrate" fossils--fossil trees standing vertically through more than one stratum--are proof of rapid sedimentary deposition (Ackerman 1986, 84; Moore 1976, 50; H. Morris 1984a, 324-325). That is true, but the rapid deposition was from local incidents (usually river flooding), not a worldwide deluge (Eldredge 1982, 105; Weber 1980, 14-15). See Andrew MacRae on polystrate fossils.

11 This point is made, with mock amazement, by both Murphy (1982, 51) and Ruse (1982, 315).

12 Genesis 7:19.

13 Newell 1985, 38. For a study suggesting that Earth's lower mantle may contain about 5 times more water than the oceans, see Murakami et al. 2002; Ball 2002.

14 H. Morris 1985, 124-125; 1995b, 4-5.

15 Strahler 1987, 195-197.

16 Spencer 1983, 217-218; Berra 1990, 128.

17 Stokes 1982, 80.

18 ICR and AiG creationists believe that dragonlike creatures in the Old Testament (e.g., Job 40:15-24; Job 41), and the dragons of medieval legend, were actually dinosaurs encountered by man (H. Morris 1984a, 350-359; 1995b, 595-596, 741; J. Morris 1993; Ham 2003a). (See "The Biochemist's Tale," note 13.) According to the fossil record, the dinosaurs' heyday began about 225 million years ago, ending with their mass extinction about 65 million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous. (See "The Paleoanthropologist's Tale," lines 19-33, note 1.)

19 Cole, Godfrey, and Schafersman 1985; Godfrey 1985; Kuban 1986; Hastings 1985. See Glen Kuban's 1996 article on the Texas "man tracks."

20 Hastings 1987 and 1989. Baugh's derivation of Glen Rose Man from a fish tooth was ironic in that creationists love to tweak evolutionists about Nebraska Man, a pig tooth mistakenly identified as that of a manlike ape by paleontologist Henry Fairfield Osborn in 1917 (see Wolf and Mellert 1985; Gould 1991, 432-447; Ecker 1990, 145-147).

21 Local floods were frequent in Mesopotamia, and there is no reason to suppose that the ancient Near Eastern tradition of a great deluge (see "The Scholar's Tale," lines 210-232) was based on any one event there (MacDonald 1988). Two Columbia University geologists have advanced the theory that a catastrophic flood of the Black Sea around 5600 B.C. inspired the Babylonian, biblical, and other deluge myths, as refugees from the Black Sea event helped spread agriculture to Egypt, Mesopotamia, Europe, and other parts of the world (Pitman and Ryan 1999; Kerr 1998c; Wilford 1999; on the spread of farmer societies and languages into the hunter-gatherers world, following the rise of plant and animal domestication around 8500 B.C., see Diamond and Bellwood 2003; on the origin of agriculture in Europe, see Pinhasi et al. 2005). In 2000, undersea explorer Robert Ballard announced discovery of artifacts showing that humans, apparently some 7,000 years ago, did inhabit an area now 300 feet beneath the Black Sea surface (Kerr 2000f; see Ballard 2001).

For a detailed critique of the young-Earth creationist view, expounded most notably by the ICR's Steven A. Austin (1994), that the Grand Canyon is evidence of Noah's Flood, see Jonathan Woolf's "Young-Earth Creationism and the Geology of the Grand Canyon." On the history of the canyon, see J. Powell 2005 and Perkins 2000b.

22 James Hutton, known as the father of geology, concluded that the age of the Earth was seemingly infinite: "The result, therefore, of this physical inquiry is, that we find no vestige of a beginning--no prospect of an end" (The Theory of the Earth, 1795; see Repcheck 2003). On determining the Earth's age (about 4.5 billion years), see Dalrymple 1994 and Jacobsen 2003. On radiometric dating, see "The Physicist's Tale," lines 237-273; Tim Thompson's Radiometric Dating Resource List; and Stassen 1996-2005. On the geological time scale, see Merriam-Webster Online's Geologic Time and the UC Museum of Paleontology's Geologic Time Scale. For a critical look at the young-Earth creationist version of the time scale, see Donald U. Wise's article from American Scientist.

On the evolution of coral reefs, see Stanley and Fautin 2001, and Stanley 2006.

23 Gould 1984b, 11.

24 Uniformitarians (that is, all mainstream scientists) hold that the laws of nature do not change. They of course recognize that rates and intensity of geologic processes can vary. Uniformitarians in fact recognize far more catastrophes in Earth history than do young-Earth creationists with their "one-Flood spectacular" (Ecker 1990, 49).

In 2001 researchers reported evidence that one of the constants of nature, known as alpha or the fine-structure constant (dealing with electromagnetic force), was slightly smaller in value in the early universe (Weiss 2001b). Subsequent studies showed no such evidence (Seife 2004f), and precision in measuring it has since increased (Kleppner 2006). On the constants of nature, see Barrow 2003.

25 On humanism, see "The Philosopher's Tale," lines 105-152.

26 "There shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts," saying "all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that . . . the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished" (2 Peter 3:3-6). Young-Earth creationists see this New Testament passage as a prophecy of uniformitarianism, which allows for "No sudden global change in earth processes" and thus denies the catastrophic biblical flood, one of "two tremendous global divine interventions," the other being creation (H. Morris 1999b; see also H. Morris 1984a, 130; Gish 1995a, 49; J. Morris 1990). Henry Morris distinguished this prophesied "secular uniformitarianism" from "Biblical uniformitarianism," the latter being "a valid principle" for the study of geologic processes, but only "since the end of the Flood period" (1999b).

27 See "Epilogue to the Cosmologist's Tale," lines 422-424.

28 The Geologist echoes a popular expression of uniformitarianism: "The present is the key to the past" (Spencer 1983, 8).

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