Re: Precambrian geology

Allen Roy (
Fri, 26 Mar 1999 08:49:23 -0700

> From: Jonathan Clarke <>
> Allen Roy wrote:
> > The line between preflood and flood rocks is hazy and may or may
> >not be at the uniformitarian interpretive division of Precambrain.
> >What may appear to be a good dividing line in one area on the
> >globe may not be the best interpretation at another.
> Many YECs appear to use that definition. If you don't, that is fine,
> but what sort of criteria do you use that can be used in the field or
> laboratory to discriminate between pre, syn, and post flood
> successions? You haven't given anything in this paragraph or the
> following one that a geologist can use in the real world.

Flood models are still in development and just exactly where the begining
and ending lines would be is still debated. In general, for the beginning,
rocks that have fossils are usually considered flood deposition, however,
some exceptions may be noted. The Archaeic or Precambrian are thought to
be post-creation week and pre-flood deposition.

Another point would be something like the great unconformity and the
interpreted high energy Tapeats sandstone deposition at Grand Canyon. The
idea being that the flood catastrophe began with high energy events (like
asteroid impacts).

The ending is even more debated than the beginning. I tend to think that
most Tertiary deposition is post-flood. Anything that is associated with
tectonic movement would be flood deposition.

That is about as specific as I can get at this point.

> > Similarity in deposition is a matter of interpretation, not necessarily
> > a matter of evidence. And, it is possible that all the evidence we
> > see in the rocks is of catastrophic deposition and none of slow
> > deposition. But that the reason for the evidence being interpreted
> > as slow is because of the force fit of uniformitarian interpretation
> > upon the evidence.
> You haven't answered my question, instead you have only avoided it.
> But to address you comments, what is your point, exactly? Everything is
> interpretation, sure. But there is a difference between careful
> interpretation and constrained speculation. There is no a priori reason
> for preferring "catastrophic" or "uniformitarian" explanations. What
> matters is the evidence of the rocks themselves. That is why some
> rock units are interpreted as the results of catastrophic processes
> and others as the results of slow processes.

There is an a priori reason for preferring the 'catastrophic' and that is
the witness evidence of the Bible.

The evidence can be interpreted within either paradigm. The interpretation
which best explains more of the evidence is likely closer to the truth.
It used to be that many sedimentary units of graded fines and silts were
explained as very slow deposition in shallow, still water environments.
Now, these same units are interpreted as near instantaneous (compared to
usual geologic time expectations) deposition by turbidites. What changed?
The evidence? The interpretation? Obviously the paradigm changed as
turbidites (catastrophic events) were added to the list of allowable

The uniformitarian ideas came first, then as catastrophies have happened
they have been accepted as good interpretataions. Creationary
catastrophists claim that most depositions can be interpreted as
catastrophic even though it may not be clear at this time just how it can
be done.

> Geological processes came to be generally seen in the 18th and early 19th
> century as the result of slow processes because the evidence demanded it,
> not because of forcing some "uniformitarian" framework onto it.

Many of the early naturalists were creationist, however they were not
catastrophist, but uniformitarian in outlook. Church fathers taught that
the earth today was just the way it came from the Creators hands during the
creation week and that the flood came and went without leaving any trace.
So, catastrophic erosion and deposition was not even conceived of. The
evidence did not demand uniformitarinism, the creationist naturalists just
did not even consider catastophic processes. So the slow erosion of today
demanded old age.

This is bacially the same position as OECs. No flood catastrophe,
therefore old ages.

It was the uniformitarian mindset which interpreted the evidence as
reprenting long ages. It was NOT the evidence that DEMANDED slow

> You seem once again to be avoiding answering my
> question by saying it is all a matter of interpretation
> according to paradigm. However I refuse to believe
> that rocks are geological ink blots into which we read
> what we want! Your strong interpretation of Kuhn's
> paradigm model is quite unwarranted. There
> must be evidence one way of the other, otherwise
> we might as well all be potato farmers.

Potato farmers?!! hahaha. You gotta be kidding!

Evidence means nothing by itself, there must be a paradigm within which to
interpret or make sense of it. Otherwise we may as well be potato farmers.

> Do you actually believe that the geological record is such that we can
understand the past?

We can understand the past by interpreting the evidence of the geological
record within our paradigm. The past only has signficance or meaning
within a paradigm.

> To put it another way, can we determine how rocks are formed from their
own evidence?

We can interpret the how the rocks formed from their evidence within our

> If you say yes, we can the discuss how individual rock units can be
> if not, then there is no point.

The differences in interpretation of how rock formed is not in the evidence
but in the paradigm. We can discuss and compare interpretations of the

Can a paradigm change? Yes. There are many parts which make up the whole.
Some parts of the paradigm are non-negotiable. Others parts change fairly
easitly. In the Creationary Catastrophe paradigm, the flood catastrophe is
not negotiable. Just exactly how it occurred is being explored. This idea
and that come and go.

> We could discuss philosophy of science to establish why you believe this,
but not actual evidence and its interpretation.

Philosophy of science is accepted by all of us. Without agreeing on
certain assumptions about what we can know we could not even do science.
This is true no mater what intepretive paradigm one chooses.