Re: Walter Brown Jr. Video

Bill Payne (
Wed, 25 Mar 1998 23:05:28 -0600

Wed, 25 Mar 1998 15:20:24 -0500, Steven Schimmrich wrote:

> I fail to see what "overarching paradigm" would have mainstream geologists
> refuse to accept that the trees at Joggins are allochthonous. You seem to
> imply some massive conspiracy here. Maybe you're being criticized, not because
> of some massive pig-headed conspiracy by close-minded scientists, but because
> you haven't presented compelling evidence which indicates otherwise.

Steve, my brother, please don't use phrases like "massive pig-headed
conspiracy by close-minded scientists," in this discussion. Next thing
I know, someone will have picked this up over my name and there'll be
another barrage of attacks against me, this time for using imflamatory
language in my description of my fellow professionals. :-)

> Just curious, have you published any of your investigations into Alabama coal?

No. But I did have lunch this week with a fellow geologist to discuss
co-authoring a paper for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. I
understand the importance of publishing and intend to do just that.

> Come, come, let's not be coy now Bill. Shall I dig up the references from
> young-earth creationists who HAVE argued that polystrate fossils are indeed
> evidence for a global flood. I'd be happy to post them.

I'm not being coy. I know polystrates have been used as evidence by
YEC's for a global flood. That nevertheless should not influence either
of us in our assessment of the data. However, this is exactly the
tactic used by Robert Gastaldo in his review of Steve Austin's graduate
work at Penn State: "This pelagochthony theory was not widely accepted
at the time but recently has been resurrected in order to explain the
formation of Carboniferous coals well within the 'Bibical time scale.'"
(from the Abstract, "A Case Against Pelagochthony: The Untenability of
Carboniferous Arborescent Lycopod-Dominated Floating Peat Mats", in _The
Evolution-Creation Controversy_, Special Publication No. 1, The
Paleontological Society, 1984, Reprinted 1996). To the best of my
knowledge, Austin never stated that he had resurrected "this
pelagochthony order to explain the formation of
Carboniferous coals well within the 'Bibical time scale.'" I spent a
couple of days in the field in western KY with Steve and his students
looking at coal outcrops in his thesis area and listening to his
interpretation of how the deposits formed. Steve Austin envisions a
purely naturalistic process for the origin of the west KY coals.
Certainly he will argue that this naturalistic process lends support to
the Bible, but is that so bad? Why can't YEC's do rigorous science in
peer-reviewed journals without being stuffed by a blood-thirsty bunch of
... (oops, there I go; nevermind).

> Art and others have failed, however, to convince anyone else (except those
> who view such reinterpretations as support for a belief in a global flood).
> I still contend that the Coconino is terrestrial, not submarine, and the trees
> at Yellowstone were not floated to the bottom of a lake. Virtually all geologists
> agree with me. Now don't go claiming that the majority isn't always correct, I
> know that, but if one wants to reinterprete the geology of an area, one has to
> present compelling evidence in peer-reviewed scientific journals and I haven't
> seen this done in any of these cases.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought Chadwick, Brand, and Rupke
had published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

> Instead I see people running around and
> giving talks to non-geologists in churches stating that these polystrate fossils
> or the Coconino Sandstone support their idea of a global flood (and I can provide
> references of people and organizations that do so). Many young-earth creationists
> want to settle geological questions like this by popular vote and not by rigorous
> research in the field and laboratory.

I know this has been frustrating to many of us, but Kurt Wise's foreword
in Brand's book (Faith, Reason, and Earth History, Andrews University
Press, 1997) suggests this is changing. Rather than jumping on someone,
saying there goes another YEC arguing for a global flood, I would like
to encourage the mavericks to dig into their respective fields and
generate the science which you correctly point out has been generally
lacking within the YEC community.

> OK, I'll accept that you didn't argue that this was evidence for a global
> flood. But I still contend that many young-earth creationists have claimed in
> print that these areas are indeed evidence for a global flood. Can you honestly
> say that you do not consider these examples to support an idea of a global flood?
> Isn't that why you're interested in these examples? Be truthful.

OK, I'll bare my soul. I have strong sympathies for the YEC position,
yet I do attempt to keep an open mind so I can evenly weigh evidence for
and against. I have encountered too many people who have "made up their
mind" and are blind to evidence which is clear to me. Yes, there are
plenty of people who would say the same thing about me, but if we can
keep the lines of communication open rather than throwing rocks at each
other, everybody can enjoy and learn from the tension of opposing
ideas. Mentally and professionally, I am determined to, as Phil Johnson
says, "follow the science wherever it leads." I also believe, as I
discussed recently on the "Miracles?" thread, that God, Satan, and their
angels/demons have the power to supernaturally override the natural flow
of cause and effect. Miracles are outside of the scope of science, and
it is very difficult (impossible?) in the context of scientific
investigation to separate miraculous and naturalistic events. If we as
Christians take an actualistic view of earth history, we then have to
decide where to draw the line. As Christians, most of us believe in the
diety of Christ, the virgin birth, and the resurrection. If we accept
the miracles of Christ, then do we also accept miraculous events in the
Old Testament? Last night I was struck by Exodus 14:22: "The waters
were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground,
with a wall of water of their right and on their left." Water doesn't
normally stand up in a wall, yet the text says it did. Water doesn't
normally cover the continents, yet the text says it did (Genesis 7:19).
Salt doesn't normally purify water (2 Kings 2:20-22); water doesn't
normally float an axehead (2 Kings 6:6), or turn into wine in a few
minutes (John 2:6-10), yet the Scripture says all of these things

Because I don't know where to draw the line between what I accept as
miraculous and what science has demonstrated as physically impossible, I
could comfortably accept the YEC position. Yet I don't categorize
myself as a YEC; I do believe science is of value and I intend to use
science to better understand the creation.

It's getting late and I've probably left myself wide open, but at least
I have been "truthful". I apologize for rambling.

God bless,