Re: Walter Brown Jr. Video

Bill Payne (
Wed, 25 Mar 1998 07:22:56 -0600

Steven Schimmrich wrote: (in response to Bill Payne)

> > I don't understand your use of the word "apparently", vertical tree
> > trunks really do penetrate multiple layers of horizontal sand, shale,
> > and underclay (beneath coal seams).
> I meant nothing judgemental by the term "apparently" -- I was simply
> stating that this is what they appeared to do. I was just trying to be
> careful to distinguish between an observation and the interpretation of
> that observation.

We agree that this distinction is critically important. In this case,
however, it appears to me that you have subtlely, and probably
subconciously, shifted what is an observation over into the less certain
category of an interpretation.

> Whenever a young-earth creationists cites a paper in the geologic
> literature as supporting their position, I always read the paper and
> then look at the next few issues because, almost invariably, there's
> a Discussion and Reply in a couple of months. Here they are:


> I'm not sure who to blame, Austin for not having this reference in his
> database, or you for not reporting this reference in his database. Either
> way shows someone is trying to present a biased case for allochthonous
> origin.

I'll gladly accept blame if I have committed an error. In this case, I
was unaware of the additional references you cited; I appreciate the
info and will eventually get copies of them and study them. If I were
to defend Steve in this case, I would say he probably had a massive
project in assimilating the database in his CatastroRef, and didn't have
the time to include the refinements you and others have pointed out.
Also, he may have intentionally reflected a bias to couterbalance the
bias some of us see in the way origins is presented in schools.

> It's clear from examining these papers that Rupke's conclusions were very
> controversial and are, in fact, not accepted by a majority of geologists
> familiar with this area.

That's almost verbatim the criticism I've received regarding my personal
allochthonous interpretation of Alabama coal. And this is an important
point: our overarching paradigm strongly influences what we see when we
collect data - to the point of causing us to reach opposite conclusions
about the origin of geologic formations. I can't speak yet to the
Joggins trees, but in my own experience the overwhelming thrust of the
data in Alabama supports allochthonous coal. Yet the majority opinion
of "geologists familiar with this area" is that coal is autochthonous.

> Ferguson disputed all four pieces of evidence
> cited by Rupke and concluded that Rupke's case for allochthony is weak.
> Ferguson wrote (p. 2531):


> This paper also refers to the work done by Dawson and describes Sigillaria
> as being preserved in situ. This is still the prevailing view of the fossils
> found here and this interpretation is not as hotly debated as you would like
> people to believe. Can you cite workers other than Rupke who hold to an
> allochthonous origin for these fossils?


> Just because polystrate fossils in one area are allochthonous, it doesn't
> mean that all polystrate fossils are allochthonous. That's faulty reasoning.

I agree.

> Every site has to be examined closely. I am not familiar with the fossils
> you're referring to in Alabama so I'm not going to comment on their origin.


> The interpretation I cited is not only due to the presence of the fossils
> but other pieces of evidence including terrestrial vertebrate body and trace
> fossils, invertebrate body and trace fossils, anastomosing channel sandstones,
> sheet sandstone crevasse splay deposits, coals, etc (I refer the reader to
> Gibling, 1987 cited above).

I believe all of these features could be incorporated into an
allochthonous deposit.

> One must consider all of the paleontological
> and lithological evidence when interpreting an area. You mentioned Spirit Lake
> and Mt. St. Helens earlier as a locality where polystrate fossils might be
> forming. I'd like everyone to keep in mind that this area in Joggins, Nova
> Scotia during the Carboniferous was nothing at all like Spirit Lake is today
> and anyone who claims it was (Austin?) is presenting a faulty analogy.

As far as the polystrate trees go, the analogy is faulty only if Joggins
is autochthonous.

> Sure, these Sigillaria might not be in situ. So what?

SO WHAT? So everything you've said above is incorrect.

> It's the same argument
> I use when arguing with Art Chadwick. Even if the argument you're making is true,
> it doesn't help you in your support of the idea of a global flood.

We weren't discussing evidence for a global flood, only the origin of
specific outcrops.

> I would also like to note that, if anything, this little piece or real estate
> in Nova Scotia argues very forcefully against a single global flood since it
> records not one, but many flooding events burying several generations of trees
> within a relatively small slice of geologic time (the Carboniferous Period).
> In between the strata here, one also finds evidence of plants and animals living
> and dying perfectly compatible with the standard geologic interpretation of this
> area.

I think it was Glenn Morton who recently debated Art Chadwick re. the
origin of the Coconino Sandstone in the Southwest and the vertical
pertified trees in Specimen Ridge of Yellowstone Park. Glenn's
arguments sounded very much like yours here, yet, IMO, Art successfully
rebutted Glenn. The main thrust of Art's logic, as I recall, was that
he has spent his career re-examining outcrops previously interpreted
within the conventional uniformitarian viewpoint, and found that in
many, if not all, cases the conclusions were not supported by the data.
The Coconino is a submarine deposit, not subaerial, and the Specimen
Ridge trees were floated into their present position by water (similar
to the vertical trees which have floated to the bottom of Spirit Lake at
Mt. St. Helens).

> I examine the
> claims of young-earth creationism and have, thus far, always been disappointed.

The issue of allochthonous or autochthonous coal is neither a YEC nor a
global flood issue - it is simply the interpretation of empirical data
from specified outcrops.

Thank you again for the references, Steven; I appreciate your input.

God bless,