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Can Reed and Froede Kill the Geologic Column?

Copyright 1999 Glenn R. Morton, This may be freely distributed so long as no changes are made to the text and no charges are made. (home.entouch.net/dmd/geo1.htm)

There has been a movement on the part of young-earth creationists to do away with the entire concept of the geologic column. Carl Froede (1995) suggested that a clean Peak should be made between the uniformitarian geologic column and creationism. He proposed defining the strata within the classification Antediluvian, Flood Event, Ice Age and Present Age. His 1995 article gives no examples of where this classification scheme has been applied.

 In the same issue of the CRSQ, Froede, interprets thunder eggs possibly from the Ash Spring Basalt as being due to emplacement of the volcanics in what he calls ‘Upper Flood Event’ and then they were heavily eroded with the retreating flood waters and Ice Age. There are several problems with this, like requiring subaqueously deposited volcanic magma and ash to appear as if it were deposited subaerially.

 In the September 1999 issue of the Creation Research Society Quarterly, Carl and John Reed, carry the suggestion about the elimination of the geologic column even further. And they use my area of expertise, the Gulf of Mexico, as their example locality. In going in this direction, Froede and Reed acknowledge the failure of young-earth creationists to actually explain where in the geologic column the flood lies. They state (1999, p. 53):

 “Although the present creationist debate has apparently been drawn along the lines of selecting a specific uniformitarian column ‘golden spike’ as the Flood boundary, it has become obvious as work progresses that the real issue is whether or not the GUC has any use within creationist stratigraphy. This issue has been addressed in an indirect manner by the failure of all creationists desiring application of the GUC to reach agreement on the placement of a single Flood-related boundary.”

In this article they examine 3 different proposals for marking the end of flood: the end of the Paleozoic, the end of the Cretaceous and the end of the Pliocene.

They reject each scenario based upon the same criteria:

  1. The volume of sediment deposited after the proposed flood boundary in each case is too great to have accumulated in the few thousand years after the flood.
  2. The dramatic sea level variations that have been documented after the supposed end of the flood.
  3. The difficulty of accounting for the energy required to erode and re-deposit this much sediment in the short time period.
  4. The difficulty in describing an adequate source for the sediments apart from the Flood.

Even with the Plio-Pleistocene boundary marking the end of the flood, it leaves up to 15,000 feet of sediment as post flood sediments in the Gulf of Mexico. In order to avoid this type of problem, Froede and Reed reject the way that the Plio-Pleistocene boundary is determined in the Gulf, by the appearance of certain microfossils including D. Pouweri A. They state (Froede and Reed, 1999, p. 56):

  “Another important issue related to the proposed Pliocene/Pleistocene boundary is the method whereby these offshore deposits are stratigraphically defined. It is typically done by the transition of microfossil assemblages. The old problem of dating sediments by the evolution of biota once again is an issue here. Presently, young-earth creationists have not devised an environmental means of using microfossils to explain sedimentary units within the Biblical framework. Hence, we recommend that the basis for harmonizing the GUC boundary with the Flood boundary be rejected until creationists can show that there is a stratigraphically significant, but non-evolutionary explanation for the microfossil assemblages.”

This is one of the most unworkable suggestions I have seen. While creationists have generally not wanted to believe in biostratigraphy, biostratigraphy is supported by numerous lines of evidence. First world wide one can find the same microfossils in the same order and this has been known for a long long time (See Berggren 1969). The fact that microfossils can be found in the same order over vast areas says that something was happening at the same time. Flood waters simply can't sort such small creatures according to surface decoration yet the fossils ARE sorted in this fashion. Berggren, as long ago as 1969 discussed this. Nothing since has changed that observation. Here is the list from Berggren 40 years ago:

Globorotalia truncatulinoides......................... 1.85 myr
Globoquadrina altispira-Sphaeroidinellopsis seminulina.3 myr
Globigerina nepenthes (extinction).................... 3.7 myr
Sphaeroidinella dehiscens..............................5 myr
Pulleniatina...........................................8 myr
Globigerina bulloides..................................9.5 myr
Candeina...............................................10.5 myr
Globigerina nepenthes..................................11.5 myr
Cassigerinella chipolensis (extinction)................12 myr
Globorotalia fahsi.....................................13 myr
Orbulina...............................................14 myr
Globigerinita stainforthi(extinction)..................15 myr
Globigerinatella insueta...............................17.5 myr
Globigerinoides........................................22.5 myr
Globorotalia opima(extinction).........................26 myr
Globigerina angulisuturalis............................30 myr
Pseudohastigerina (extinction).........................32 myr
Hantkenina (extinction)................................36.5 myr
Globigerapsis mexicana (extinction)....................41 myr
Globorotalia lehneri-Truncorotaloides rohri(extinction)45 myr
Globorotalia Lehneri-Truncorotaloides topilensis.......48 myr
Hantkenina.............................................49 myr
Globorotalia araganensis (sp?).........................52 myr
Pseudohastigerina......................................53.5 myr
Globorotalia pseudomenardii(extinction)................56 myr
Globorotalia pseudomenardii............................58 myr
Globorotalia angulata..................................60 myr
Globocanusa doubjergensis(extinction)..................61.5 myr
Globotruncana-rugoglobigerina(extinction)..............65 myr.

Secondly, doing away with the geologic column does not take into account the physical properties of the rocks. Seismic data ONLY measures the velocity and density of a rock. It doesn't know what fossils are found in the rocks. However, we can tie oil wells with their occurrences of various fossils by following the same reflection character on the seismic data. When we run physical logs in a well we collect information on the density and velocity of sound in the rocks. We then use this to create a synthetic seismogram which we can tie, wiggle for wiggle, to our seismic data. In this way we know that the peak or trough on the seismic data is caused a sand or shale of interest. Then we can follow the reflections away from the well, tie the reflection into other wells and predict (very successfully) the paleontology in any well we are about to drill. You can see a Gulf seismic line at: (www.flash.net/~mortongr/seistie.jpg) The picture is from Weimer et al, 1998, p. 938.

The beds that are marked are the ones tied into the wells. Geologists explain the constancy of the physical rock properties aligning with biostratigraphy as being due to the microfossils dying and falling into the sediments that are being deposited at the time of death. As the animals evolve, the forms which fall to the ocean floor change, but then by that time so has the sedimentary depositional regime changed. Traditional geology would argue from this evidence that the lines of constant time follow the seismic reflectors. Thus, the physical properties SHOULD follow biostratigraphy. It looks like:

****           ####
---******      ----#####
   ------******    -----#######
         ------******   ------########
               ------         --------

Where * and # are the rock layer/biostratigraphic layer and - is the time line.

Froede and Reed want to divorce the time from the biostratigraphic/rock layer. Their interpretation must look like:

A             B
***           ####                   present age
---****-----------####------------------------
       ****           ####                     Ice Age
----------******----------#####--------------------------
                 ******         #######           Flood event
------- ---------------******----------########------------

To claim as Froede and Reed do, that they can throw away the biostratigraphy without also throwing away the physical rock properties of a given bed (which must have been formed at the time of deposition) makes no sense! Surely there should be some change in the nature of the sediment from the Flood to the present age, yet their suggestion would leave none. Why should the physical properties of a rock follow biostratigraphy (which is what we observe) unless the beds were deposited over a long, long time? And if they do eliminate biostratigraphy, how can they explain why physical properties of a given sedimentary bed remain relatively constant from the ‘flood event’ through the ice age event to the present time, which surely must be the case if they decide that time does not follow the physical rock properties.

Even more importantly, They need to explain why only certain microfossils were deposited on the * rocks and an entirely different group of microfossils were deposited on the # rocks. And since often we have outcropping rocks like this, one must explain why and how the microfauna is still being sorted in the present day oceans at A for the * rock critters and at B for the # rock critters. This has not been observed anywhere today, yet they must claim its existence or there would be no way for a critter killed during the flood and in the post flood times to find a way to drop onto the same rock layer! This concept advocated by Froede and Reed leads to very, very strange consequences.

This suggestion, while inventive, does not match observational reality! While Froede and Reed apparently blame the failures of creationist stratigraphy on the evolutionist, they do acknowledge the plain fact that young-earth creationism has yet to come up with a valid stratigraphy that works:

  “Advances in creationist stratigraphy have been frustratingly slow in the last four decades. There has been no direct impact in the secular geologic community. This is because the naturalists, have been quick to realize the fundamental nature of the challenge of creationism not just to their historical scenarios, but to their very worldview. With few workers, creationist geology has been both slow to develop alternative interpretations and confusing to those workers who have insisted on the priority of following the GC in their work. Some researchers have discovered that the gulf between the GUC and the Bible is wider than first hoped. Some have not been able to shift their assumptions toward the Scriptures, and have become advocates of a theistic version of uniformitarianism that does no justice to Genesis. Others have not vigorously pursued their models to logical conclusions, and thus work with inconsistencies in their framework.” (Froede and Reed, 1999, p. 57)

The shift to the Bible is a withdrawal from observational reality--a faith based answer with no support--like a city in clouds. They write:

“We fear an epistemological imbalance between Scripture and uniformitarian geology. Contrary to modern positivism, we assert that biblical revelation is primary and superior to any naturalist interpretation of history. Thus, there can be no balanced comparison between the ‘truth of science’ and the truth of Scripture in an attempt to reconcile the two. Rather, any interpretation of history that rejects biblical revelation should in turn be rejected and its interpretive results should be carefully examined for all hidden presuppositions implanted by the naturalist framework. A sound young-earth Flood geology should not fear careful examination of proposed historical models, since confidence in the truth of Scripture cannot depend in any way on natural history.” (Froede and Reed, 1999, p. 53)

This is nothing less than advocating that we not pay any attention to the scientific data. And this goes entirely against the way the disciples handled the resurrection. If the Disciples said that the truth of the resurrection does not in any way depend on natural history, one would be justified in wondering if the disciples really believed it actually happened. But the disciples didn't withdraw from the world--they faced it squarely. The disciples WANTED the observational data examined. It appears that their descendants have changed their minds about examining and dealing with observational data!

References

  • Berggren, W.A. 1969. “Cenozoic Chronostratigraphy, Planktonic Foraminiferal Zonation and the Radiometric Time Scale” Nature 224 (Dec 13, 1969), p. 1072-1075
  • Froede, Jr. Carl R. and John K. Reed, 1999. “Reassessing Creationist Stratigraphy with Evidence from the Gulf of Mexico,” Creation Research Society Quarterly, 36:51-60
  • Froede, Jr., Carl R. 1995, “Thunder Eggs: Evidence for Subaqueous Deposition? (Big Bend National Park, Texas)” Creation Research Society Quarterly, 32:101-104
  • Froede, Jr., Carl R. 1995. “A Proposal for a Creationist Geological Timescale,” Creation Research Society Quarterly, 32:90-94
  • Weimer, Paul, et al, “Sequence Stratigraphy of Pliocene and Pleistocene Turbidite Systems, Northern Green Canyon and Ewing BAnk (Offshore Louisiana), Northern Gulf of Mexico,” AAPG Bulletin 82 (1998):918-960.

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