The Geologic Column

22 Aug

No doubt it would come as a surprise to many that the geologic column is poorly represented throughout the world. In fact, such a place as the Grand Canyon offers only about half of the ten presumed great periods of time. One would have to travel to other parts of the globe to find anything represented from the Mesozoic or Cenozoic eras. In over 75% of the earth (including under the sea) one would find only three of the geologic periods represented! In fact, 96.6% of the earth has at least one period missing, and only a meager .4% of the earth contains the whole geologic column, and even then geologists have concluded that the individual systems are deficient. In other words, the Geologic Column exists nowhere on earth except on the pages of science textbooks!

Let me qualify that statement. I don’t mean to imply that there are no areas on earth where the 10 assigned eras of the column don’t exist, because, as I said above, .4% of the earth does contain all 10 systems. Nevertheless, by no means does the column exist anywhere in the world as an index, such as we can observe in the textbook. What we do find in the field is similar to a burning candle in a room. How long was the candle burning? To gain an accurate answer, one would not only have to determine the rate at which the candle is burning but how tall the candle was before it was lit.

Historical Geology is a science that deals with past events. Knowing what occurred is not always as easy as

Layers of the Grand Canyon (Image from Google Images)

Layers of the Grand Canyon
(Image from Google Images)

one may think. Many assumptions must be made in the absence of certain evidence, and such assumptions may or may not be true. For example, if millions of years have passed as the earth’s crust was forming, should we add the largest deposits of sedimentary rocks found around the globe together to form an accurate indexing Geologic Column? If we did this, we would have a record of sedimentary layers 100 to 200 miles thick! However, no geologist would try to say that this index exists. Yet, wouldn’t we need some sort of index, if we wanted to offer an accurate time it took to deposit what we like to call the Geologic Column? The average amount of local deposits of sedimentary layers of rock around the globe is less than 2 miles thick. Would this be close to an accurate index for the Geologic Column? How tall was our candle and at what rate is it burning (eroding), and did it always burn (erode) at the same rate?

We seem to be left with assumptions in the lack of what we could call the clear evidence of an acceptable indexing column in the field. So, if we are to expect assumptions to explain what we see in the earth’s crust, care needs to be exercised in those judgments, but this will be difficult, because we tend to assume an explanation according to the worldview we embrace—no matter what that worldview is and how hard we try to be unbiased. Too often, we are blind to our own biases.

I believe Christians have an honest question about the Geologic Column. If geologists claim we actually have millions of years of sedimentary layers covering the earth’s crust (ideally showing 10 ages, but not expected everywhere), what index are they using? Where is it found? How tall was the candle (column) to begin with, and what was/is the rate of burn (erosion), and was the rate uniform and are you able to empirically prove your assumed index? If not, then the creation model for the geologic column is just as valid a model as that of the naturalists.

Considering the observable data of more recent catastrophes like the eruption of Mount St. Helens, creationists believe catastrophe rather than uniformitarianism would be a more accurate method of interpreting the geological record around the world. For example, the layers of the Grand Canyon show very little, if any, erosion between the layers of the local Geologic Column. If the Grand Canyon was formed over millions of years, as is claimed by many geologists, wouldn’t the top of each layer show considerable evidence of erosion? Since each layer seems relatively unaffected by erosion, wouldn’t a catastrophe on a gigantic scale be a better explanation for all the unspoiled layers we see? Isn’t an observable fact much better than an assumption about a fact? If so, wouldn’t a catastrophe like Mount St. Helens be a much better index for interpretation of the formation of the Grand Canyon than the index of uniformitarianism?

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Posted by on August 22, 2013 in naturalism, theory of evolution


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