Genesis Question pt 1-Biology/Geology

Glenn R. Morton (grmorton@waymark.net)
Mon, 04 Jan 1999 21:05:23 -0800

I am dropping back in for a brief visit. I won't be here long. I have
finished reading Hugh Ross' new book _The Genesis Question_ (Colorado
Springs: NavPress, 1998). Unfortunately, many of the claims made in this
book have reinforced my severe suspicion of Christian apologists and their
unwillingness to accurately cite modern research. What I have seen among
the young-earth creationists, over and over, is selective use of the data,
misrepresentation of the data and failure to cite important research. All
of this applies to Ross' new book as much as it has in the past ICR
products. As you all know here, over the past few months, I truly have
begun to wonder if Christian apologists can be trusted to get the
scientific data correct. Reading this book last month and knowing of my
interaction with Ross in 1996, sent me into an even more depressed state
concerning the willingness of the apologists to face the data of modern
science.

In this review, I will start with the biological issues then hit the
geological issues before moving in part 2, to the area of my greatest
disappointment, anthropology, and in particular the views on racial origins
that are expressed. All quotations from Ross' book will merely be
referenced with a page number. If the citation is from some other of Ross'
writing, it will have a year with it. I apologize for the length. I could
have been longer. The references are in part 1.

Biology

The most interesting item that came into focus during my reading of this
book is the fact that Hugh Ross is a committed special creationist. By
that I mean he holds the view that God created each species individually.
He does not believe ANY significant morphological change occurs. I quote:

"Genesis offers this explanation: God created the first sea mammals on the
fifth creation day. As the fossil record documents, sea mammals have
persisted on Earth from that epoch until now, though not without
interruption. Multiple extinctions of sea mammals imply that God
repeatedly replaced extinct species with new ones. (See chapter eight for
further discussion of this issue.) In most cases the new species were
different from the previous ones because God was changing Earth's geology,
biodeposits, and biology, step by step, in preparation for His ultimate
creation on Earth---the human race.
"The many 'transitional' forms of whales and horses suggest that God
performed more than just a few creative acts here and there, letting
natural evolution fill in the rest. Rather, God was involved and active in
creating all the whale and horse species, the first, the last, and the
'transitional' forms." (p. 52)

Being surprised by this, I went looking back through some of his other
writings. The book says that dinosaur transitional forms were specially
created by God in Ross (1998, p. 3).

This explains why Ross has occasionally written that the speciation rate is
zero today. He writes:

"Research indicates that natural evolutionary processes, the observable
microevolution, occurs at roughly the same rate today as it did before
humans. Science offers no explanation, as yet, for the sudden change in
the speciation rate, but the Bible offers one: the difference comes from
the change in God's level of creative activity. Before Adam and Eve, it
was high. After Adam and Eve, it dropped to zero."(p. 65)

This claim of no speciation is so blatantly absurd that it would be
laughable, if it were not being used to 'support the Bible. Here are some
examples for Ross to consider:

"Hawaii harbors several moths of the genus Hedylepta that feed only on
banana plants. Other species of the genus feed on other Hawaiian plants,
and similarities of form demonstrate that one of these that feeds on palms
is the ancestor of the banana- feeding species. Each of the banana-feeding
species is restricted to high mountain forests on only one or two islands,
and the reason they must bear a descendant rather than ancestral
relationship to the palm-feeding species is that, while palm trees are
native Hawaiian plants, banana trees are not. In fact Polynesians first
introduced the banana plant to the Hawaiian Islands only about a thousand
years ago. This sets an upper limit for the evolution of the new
banana-feeding insect species. For all we know, they evolved in a small
fraction of this interval." (Stanley, 1983, p. 21)

Prior to the voyages of exploration, rats did not live on the Island of
Mauritius. Some of the rats, deserted the first ships that landed there.
Today, the rats of Mauritius have a chromosome count and type that is
unique. Nowhere else in the world do we find rats with this chromosomal
arrangement. Yosida et al write:

"There are many researchers who have studied the chromosomes of the black
rats from several locations of the world, but none has observed in them the
karyotype characterized by the Robertsonian fission as seen in the
Mauritius type." (T.H. Yosida, et al, 1979, p. 59)

This has arisen in the past 400 years and would prevent interbreeding.

Many, many examples of speciation by polyploidy could be cited by
sophomores in Biology courses. Ross does allow for plant speciation, but
claims "No plant species radically different from already existing species
has arisen under human observation." (p. 42). This is falsified by
cotton,(only cultivated cotton has lint-Sauer 1969,p.78), corn (which is
huge by comparison with the ancestor and little looks like the earliest
teosinte). Cox and Moore (1985, p. 221-222) write:

"Indeed, both maize and teosinte are now regarded as subspecies of Zea
mays, but structurally they are very different, and in particular the
evolution of the all important flower and fruit structure is still in
dispute."

The claim that the speciation rate is zero or nearly zero today is clearly
false. The claim that morphological change has not occurred is clearly
false. Ross should not be advocating a view that is so easily falsified.

Origin of life

One of my personal disappointments with this book concerns Ross' claim:

"The simplest chemical step for the origin of life, the gathering of amino
acids that are all left-handed and nucleotide sugars that are all
right-handed (a phenomenon known as 'homochirality'), cannot be achieved
under inorganic conditions." (p. 41)

This is blatantly false and goes against the latest research. And it is a
sad story of willfully ignoring the data. How do I know it is willful?
Here is how. In September 1996, I was invited to a meeting here in Dallas
with Hugh Ross. I went an hour early hoping to meet Ross and show him the
Neanderthal flute which anthropologists had just discovered. This led to
the exchange between Ross and I concerning the flute (Morton, 1996, Ross,
1997, p. 6-7).

At this meeting, I was seated at a table with three friends, Ray Bohlin,
co-author of The Natural Limits to Biological Change, Jim McIntosh, Prof.
of Anatomy at Baylor Dental School, and Daryl Wilson, a Campus Crusade for
Christ staffer. During the talk, Hugh made the claim that he made above.
During the question and answer session, I stood and told Hugh that there
were left-handed amino acids in the Murchison meteorite and that unless he
believed that there was life in outer space, there was an inorganic process
capable of manufacturing amino acids of the proper handedness. He
categorically denied that there was any evidence of the sort. Considering
that meteors are part of astronomy I was surprised by this strong denial
from him. I told him that there had been several articles in Nature about
the issue. He looked at the audience and once again denied it. I sat down
and looked at Ray, shaking my head. Ray was shaking his also.
After the meeting I talked to Tad, his staff member who was selling books.
(I forget his last name). Tad gave me his e-mail address. I told Tad that I
would send him the references for the articles and Tad assured me that he
would get them to Ross. Here is the e-mail I sent a blind copy of this to
Ray Bohlin so that he would be a witness to the sending of this data
(Besides, since Ray is anti-evolutionary, I wanted Ray to know that the
information exists) Here is my e-mail:
Thu Sep 12 22:10:37 1996
X-State: 3
X-Total-length: 1476
Bcc: raymond.bohlin@chrysalis.org
X-Mailer: GNNmessenger 1.3
Mime-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
Date: Thu, 12 Sep 1996 22:10:37
From: GRMorton@gnn.com (Glenn Morton)
To: Tadd@Reasons.org
Subject: Non-biological L-form amino acids

Sir:

I am the guy who asked the question of Hugh about the left handed amino
acids. Here is a reference to back up my statement that some type of
non=biological process must exist to produce statistically significant left
handed chirality. I told Hugh that night that it was 60-70%. I was wrong.
it is 70-80%.

amino acid d/l ratio in Murchison meteorite
GLU ASP PRO LEU ALA
H2O .322 .202 .342 .166 .682
H2O .30 .30 .30 nd .60
HCl .176 .126 .105 .029 .307
This proves non-biogenic hydrocarbons can be optically active
~Michael H. Engel and Bartholomew Nagy, "Distribution and
Enantiomeric Composition of Amino Acids in the Murchison
Meteorite", Nature , 296, April 29, 1982, p. 838.

and

This has been verified by further work in

Amino Acids extracted from Murchison meteorite are not racemic but actually
have a higher L concentration. no quote ~M. H. Engel, S. A. Macko and J. A.
Silfer, "Carbon Isotope Composition of Individual Amino Acids in the
Murchison Meteorite", Nature, 348, November 1, 1990, p. 47-48.

Sincerely

glenn
Foundation,Fall and Flood
http://members.gnn.com/GRMorton/dmd.htm
*************************************************

Tad did acknowledge receipt of this via e-mail and told me again that he
would give it to Ross.

What is sad is that Hugh, instead of doing the scientifically honest thing,
mentioning these articles and then attempting to explain why it won't work,
still denies that this evidence exists. He KNOWS of this data because I
personally told him of it face to face. I personally sent the references to
his assistant who had assured me that he would get them to Ross. I find
the failure to deal with the data every bit as selective as any young-earth
creationist. And I find it disturbing. The study of meteors are part of
astronomy which is Ross' expertise!

Since that time, even more work has confirmed the left-handed nature of
amino acids from the Murchison meteor. See Petersen 1997, p.118; Cronin and
Pizzarello, 1997, p. 951; Engel and Macko, 1997, p.265-268; Chyba, 1997, p.
234-235; Bailey et al, 1998; Irion, 1998; and so I won't be charged with
selectivity, here is a contra view Pizzarello and Cronin, 1998.

I might cite Petersen's article, which is from the popular press and is
easily obtainable and thus should have been picked up by Ross' research
team. Petersen writes:

"'This is the first convincing demonstration that there may be some
natural, nonbiological process that results in a slight. . .excess of the
[left-handed] amino acids.', says Jeffrey L. Bada of the Scripps
Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif." (Petersen, 1997, p. 118
[ellipses are Petersen's not mine])

While Ross might have ignored the articles I sent him in 1996, he should
not continue to ignore the voluminous literature on this issue. That is
what I expect from a young-earth creationist. I find it odd that Ross
chides the young-earth creationists for "misguiding many whose science
education and biblical training are inadequate to aid them in evaluation."
(Ross, 1991, p. 155) and chides them for their 'denial of physical reality'
(Ross 1994, p. 123) yet he appears to be doing the same.

Lest someone criticize me for criticizing Ross without going to him
directly, as noted above, I did. It had no more effect than when, in 1980,
I tried to tell Henry Morris that there were errors in Dillow's surface
temperature calculations of a vapor canopy earth. (see Dillow 1983, p.
13,14 note 36 for Dillow's admission that I had been correct). Too many
Christian apologists don't seem to want to listen to anything that
challenges their viewpoint.

Geology

It is quite clear that Ross did not have a geologist review this book prior
to publication. The book was reviewed by only two "research scientists Sam
Conner and David Rogstad, and theologians Craig Keener, Mick Ukleja, and
John Rea, (p. 7)" Last month I e-mailed Reasons to Believe asking what
were the areas of expertise possessed by Conner and Rogstad. I got no
reply. Since then, I have learned that Conner is an astronomer. From the
looks of this book, Rogstad is unlikely to be a geologist.
Hugh starts with the claim (p. 11) that the sequence of events in the
Genesis account matches the established scientific record on 'more than a
dozen' counts. One should ask a paleontologist if this is the case. While
Ross can declare victory/conformance with the scientific record, it doesn't
make it so. There are several areas that don't seem to fit the scientific
record. One criticism is that whales should have been created with the
birds and fish on day 5. The Hebrew uses the word "tanniyn" which is the
Hebrew word for whale. And there is no doubting that the Hebrew intended us
to believe that birds ('owph) are created with the fish. Yet no fossil
whales are found with the earliest birds or fish. And no birds are found
with the earliest fish. In fact the scientific record shows that fish
lived about 500 million years ago, prior to the birds(Sansom 1996, p. 628)
and the birds lived about 150 million years ago, prior to the whales who
are first found in rocks dated 53-54 million years ago (Baipai and
Gingerich, 1998,p. 15464-15468). In what way can this be said to match the
sequence of the Genesis account? And what is bizarre, Ross makes the
following statement as if this solves the issue:

"Recent discoveries reveal that the first sea mammals date much earlier
than paleontologists had once thought. Fossils of four extinct species of
whales-Pakicetus, Nalacetus, Ambulocetus, and Indocetus-have been dated at
52 million, 52 million, 50 million, and 48 million years ago, respectively.
These dates eliminate any credible challenge to the placement of the first
sea mammals on the fifth creation day." P. 50

The dates are precisely the problem with fitting whales into the fifth day
and Ross merely cites the dates as if they solve the problem that the dates
initially created.

In other areas of geology his book is equally bad.
The book claims that the Mesopotamian alluvium is lower in radioactivity
than other areas and this is why Adam and his immediate descendants lived
longer. On page 118 it says that isolation from radioactivity would allow
preflood peoples to live longer [i.e. 900 years] and on p. 156 says that
they had to live in Mesopotamia. This implies that Mesopotamia must be low
in radioactivity. This violates two things. One, Tigris and Euphrates
sediment is as radioactive as any other sediment coming off an igneous
terrane, like that of Turkey. Iraq is a producer of indigenous uranium
(http://www.uic.com.au/nip15.htm) and thus is not a radiation free zone.
Two, there is no way that radioactivity could be excluded from sedimentary
rocks. We will return to this issue of longevity.

While I am not a fan of the global flood model, he presents a terrible
argument against the global flood. He claims that if there was a global
flood the earth's core would ring for tens of thousands of years. (p. 149)
As a geophysicist I find this to be utter and irredeemable poppycock. The
cited articles say nothing of the sort. The cited articles are speaking of
atmospherically induced seismic sound. The continued input of atmospheric
energy maintains the ring. But this ringing is of such a low amplitude that
it has only just now been detected. And besides sound cannot propagate for
tens of thousands of years. Has Ross, who surely took physics, never heard
of friction? In sound waves in the earth (a field in which I earn my
living) there are several sources of frictional energy loss. There is Q
which is a frequency based loss, there is dispersion, diffraction,
absorption, heat generation, all of which diminish the seismic wave's
amplitude. Reflection of sound waves at every acoustical boundary removes
energy from the traveling wave. If Ross were correct, then every
earthquake would lead to endless 'ringing' in the earth's core, but in fact
after about 20 hours, most of the energy created in an earthquake has been
expended and geophones fall very silent. This is one of the silliest
arguments I have ever heard against a global flood. Maybe this is because
I know this area so well, but never the less, if we are going to criticize
the global flood, for Pete's sake let's use better arguments than this.

In defense of his Mesopotamian flood he claims that there would be no
evidence left by even a 1-year-long, 300-foot-deep flood occurring there.
(p. 155) This is false. Every rock we have in geology is the record of a
previous geologic event, be it slow or catastrophic deposition. These
records in rock go back millions of years in some cases. In the scenario
outlined by Ross for a 300 foot deep flood occurring in Mesopotamia there
are several observational expectations which are not satisfied. There
would be raised beaches which would have been cut by the waves, there would
be a widespread Holocene/late Pleistocene clastic layer. The USGS open-file
report 97-470B shows a very limited Holocene deposit. There are NO
Holocene deposits along the shore just south of Kuwait. If there had been
a 300 foot deep flood it should be there.
There should be coarse gravel and sand deposits with giant ripples-there
isn't.

This view also violates physics(a second, IMO inexcusable, violation from a
person who has studied physics!). A 300 foot tall wall of water simply
can't stand for a year in the Mesopotamian basin. The southern end of the
Persian basin is open to sea-level and the water would rush downhill
rapidly and be emptied into the Indian Ocean in much less than a year. If
he wants this to be miraculous he should say so. But he doesn't so it is
fair to criticize him on the laws of fluid flow.

It is also fair to criticise the inconsistency between the 300 ft flood
discussed on p. 155 while in order to get the ark to land on what he calls
'the Mountains of Ararat' he presents a map with a 600 foot contour as the
depth of the flood (p. 147 and Fig. 19.1 p. 166). How the ark climbs the
extra 300 feet elevation without any water is a real mystery.

He claims that the flood sediments would be eroded away over the past few
thousand years. Ross writes:

"The assumption that clear evidence 'should' remain must be challenged.
The Flood, though massive, lasted but one year and ten days. A flood of
such brief duration typically does not leave a deposit substantial enough
to be positively identified thousands of years later." p. 155

This is false as there are sedimentary rocks from the Cretaceous (>65 myr)
to be found in western Iraq. He also misses the fact that there are loads
and loads of floods from that time frame that HAVE left lots of evidence
for themselves even over the past 18-20,000 years. AND WE CAN IDENTIFY
THESE SEDIMENTS EVEN AFTER 18,000 YEARS!

"Immense terranes of coarse gravel and sand over 30 meters high line the
upper Columbia River valley in western Canada, attesting to staggering
volumes of meltwater flowing through river valleys to the Pacific. Large
lakes formed at least five times in the northern Rocky Mountains. In
western Montana, a large basin filled several times to form Lake Missoula
which was as much as 300 meters deep. This lake drained several times as
glaciers to the northeast enlarged and then shrank. The most spectacular
draining occurred about 18,000 years ago, when its ice-moraine dam in
northern Idaho broke. Water rushed across eastern Washington with
incredible velocity. This gigantic flood scoured channels and deposited
immense gravel ripples 10 meters high over a large part of the Columbia
Plateau, now called channeled scablands because of the peculiar topography
left by the flood." (Dott and Batten, 1988, p. 582)

Ross is wrong about how long evidence can last in the geologic record. We
can identify this event after 18,000 years. Even a massive 300 foot deep
flood as advocated by Ross, should have left similar types of deposits.
There are none in Mesopotamia. His claim that the evidence would be easily
lost is ad hoc, designed to avoid the impact of the obvious lack of
observable data supporting his view.

One other example:

"Pleistocene glacial outburst floods were released from ice-dammed lakes of
the Altay Mountains, south-central Siberia. The Kuray-Chuja lake system
yielded peak floods in excess of 1 x 10^6 m^3 s^-1 and as great as 18 x
10^6 m^3 s^-1. The phenomenally high bed shear stresses and stream powers
generated in these flows produced a main-channel, coarse-grained facies of
coarse gravel in (1) foreset-bedded bars as much as 200 m high and several
kilometers long, and (2) degradational, boulder-capped river terraces.
Giant current ripples, 50 to 150 m in spacing, composed of pebble and
cobble gravel, are locally abundant. The whole sedimentary assemblage is
very similar to that of the Channeled Scabland, produced by the Pleistocene
Missoula Floods of western North America." (Rudoy and Baker, 1993, p. 53)

If there had been a 300 foot deep flood in Mesopotamia the evidence would
be more than abundantly there.

He claims (p. 154) that North America's plains emerged from under water
more than 200 million years ago. NOT SO! Much of Texas has emerged from
the ocean only within the past 30 myr and most of the Midcontinent emerged
after the Cretaceous period (<65 MYR old).(see paleogeographic maps in Dott
and Batten, 1988) p. 484-485 and p. 528-529)

He claims that rain as we know it never falls in Mesopotamia! On page
147-148 he says:

"Certain well-timed geologic events could bring all that water to the
surface. And while rain as we know it virtually never falls in Mesopotamia,
an 'act of God' could certainly bring it to the region and sustain the
40-day torrent which Genesis records."

The 'fact' that rain as we know it doesn't fall in Iraq, will be news to
the weathermen in Baghdad maybe even to weathermen in the Pentagon.

He does not tell exactly what geologic processes will cause water to come
out of the rocks at all. I will tell you that permeability and porosity of
most aquifers limits the flow rates of water out of them, even in an
artesian situation. I have never seen or heard of any geologic event cause
water to spurt out of the rocks AND THEN FLOOD A REGION. It is just silly.

Part 2, Anthropology and References
glenn

Adam, Apes and Anthropology
Foundation, Fall and Flood
& lots of creation/evolution information
http://www.isource.net/~grmorton/dmd.htm