Re: Precambrian geology (2)

Allen Roy (
Sun, 11 Apr 1999 21:43:26 -0700

> From: Jonathan Clarke <>
> Allen Roy wrote:
> > > From: Jonathan Clarke <>
> > > > There is an a priori reason for preferring the 'catastrophic' and
that is
> > > > the witness evidence of the Bible.
> > > This does not hold water. the Bible speaks of catastrophic events
but nowhere
> > > ascribes the geological record to them. You admit this when you say
below that
> > > the church fathers did not see physical evidence to the flood or read
the Bible
> > > as saying that there was such evidence.
> > Would anyone expect the Bible to point to some kind rock formation as
> > evidence of catastrophic events described in the Bible? Of course not.
> > Does it matter that the Bible does or does not do so? No.
> So are you saying the Biblical record is irrelevant on this point?

What I was trying to say was that the Bible does not single out any
particular geologic formation as being the result of any kind of
catastrophe. That is not saying that the Bible denies that the Flood is
responsible for any geologic formations. Nor am I admiting that the
fathers did not see physical evidence because the Bible does not identify
some strata as flood deposits. I was trying to say that they did not see
physical evidence of the flood because they were unable to conceive that
the strata they were looking at could be catastrophically depositied. Nor
am I saying that the Biblical record is irrelevant. I was saying that one
would not expect the Bible to identify specific rock formations as Flood
deposits. But just because the Bible does not do that, that does not rule
out the possibility that the catastrophe was responsible for the Rocks.
Floods by nature cause erosion and make deposition. A 'flood' that 'covers
mountains' is to be expected to do large scale erosion and deposition. The
Bible does not come right out and say this, but it does follow logically.
Just exactly what the scale of that erosion and deposition is not explicit.
It is when one begins to look at the geologic record that the scale
becomes important. This is where the differences of opinion begin. Flood
catastrophists see the entire record as catastrophic deposition.
Uniformatarians see it as representing long ages.

> Of course their geological knowledge was limited. However they were
aware of
> basic lithostratigphic principles (Steno), considered the implications of
> fossils for depositional processes (da Vinci), carried out experiments on
> crystallisation (Newton), developed predictive theories for the
> succession that would result from a flood (Woodward), and pondered the
> implications of conglomerates. It was the result of this knowledge,
> with detailed mapping, that led to the collapse of geological
> Sure we know more now, but that does not mean to say that their
> were necessarily wrong. Should we reconsider geocentric astronomy just
> we know more about the heavens that Copernicus and Galileo?
> Allen, did you read what I said? The geological diluvialists did not
> in a succession of catastrophes. That was catastrophists - a very
> group of people working at a late date. As to the complexity of modern
> geology, I suggest you read "The Sacred Theory of the Earth". Burnet's
> is as complex, with as many different processes going on, as any
developed by
> modern devotees of flood geology.

It has been along time since I read anything about the early diluvialists
and catastrophists. I don't remember a whole lot about every detial of
what they proposed. However, what I have been trying to say is that
Creationary catastrophism today is different from the early catastrophists.
To be sure there are similarities, but where the early catastrophists
captiulated, modern catastrophism has found valid explanations. Probably
the best thing to do is to take the model of each early catastrophist along
with the evidence which appeared to invalidate it and compare it with
curent catastrophism. This would be alot of work, but likely quite
productive in the long run.

> I am not saying that. All I am saying is that it is no evidence in the
> Scriptures that Noah's flood changed the face of the earth, formed
> of geological succession, etc. The church fathers held that and you seem
> agree. To me you are in the same position as the 17th century
> You are faced with the fact of a geological record and then explain it
with an
> event you already have to hand.

LIke I said above, it follows logically that floods cause change. The
question is how much? And again, there are some similarities between the
17th century diluvialists, but there are differences which explain the
geologic record within a catastrophic paradigm.

> After nearly 200 years of diluvial research by many people they obviously
> differently. It would be helpful if you could read their works
(available in
> most good libraries, either their entirety or as exerpts) before deciding
> whether they were justified in abandoning ship or not.

I have read some of them, enough to recognize basic differences between
what they proposed and what is proposed now. This would be a great place
to take each one and compare then and now.

> When both Bible and and creation are rightly interpreted, yes. But please
> say that yours is the only Biblical paradigm within which people work.
It is
> one yes, but not the only one. It is one that developed in response to
> geological evidence, a response which was eventually rejected (200 years
> as being inadequate. I work within a Biblical paradigm for Genesi 1-11.
> Different to yours true, but still Biblical.

The Creationary Catastrophism of today is different from that 'rejected'
200 years ago. It is invalid to label todays catastrophism with a 200 year
old label, so you can attempt to dismiss modern catastrophism as
unscientific and backwards.
> And this is precisely what happened. It was not one observation that
lead to
> the collapse of diluvialism, but a mass of evidence and how they fitted
> together that those studying the earth felt was overwhelming.

You are again saying that what modern catastrophists is the same that the
old. This simply does not work.

> A presuppositionalist is one who argues that everything we believe is
> determined by our presuppositions. A strong presuppositionalist (and I
> apologise to any philosophers reading this for the caricature) would say
> presuppositions completely determine what we believe. A weak
> presuppositionalist would say that they are merely influential, to
> degrees. We are both weak presuppositionalists, I suspect.

Sounds about right.

> However is it not possible
> that the paucity of modern flood geologists, even among Christian
> geologists (<10%?) might have something to do with the evidence? Or do
> doubt their professional competence and spiritual integrity?

It has nothing to do with professional competence nor spiritual integrity,
but it is due the strength of the reigning paradigm.

> This is not what you said, see above. But more importantly, what were
> interpretative beliefs of the church fathers that were extra Biblical?
> were they wrong? What extra-Biblical beliefs to you use in interpreting
> Bible. Is it always wrong to do so? How to we chose?

Here again we need to look at each one specifically and analyze their
assumptions and interpretations, and then compare with todays views.

> The flood event is clear the the Bible, but Biblical catastrophism is
> Please explain how it is.

I see both as one and the same. This comes from looking as the description
of the Flood of the Bible and looking at the geologic record.

> Yes, I agree this is so in my experience. But it has always puzzled me.
> If you hold to an apparent age approach, then you don't need to explain
> the geological record by the flood. It would be simpler to do so. As
> I recall this was Phillip Gosse's position. Although he believed in a
> universal flood, with his creation of his apparent age (I think he called
> "prochronism") he did not need to explain the geological record by it.
> It solved no end of messy geological problems, at the cost of bigger
> metaphysical ones.

My own view is this:

The Universe (including galaxies, stars and planets) was created at some
point "In the Beginning" long ages ago.

That some 6000 earth-years ago, the Creation week occurred during which the
earth was modified to house and support life (as we know it) and then that
life was created during 7 rotations of the planet.

Then, some 4000 years ago, the Flood occurred which compleately altered the
surface of the globe. Many types of animals and plants were buried and

The messy geological problems arise because of the felt need to interpret
things in terms of long times. And there are big metaphysical problems
with long evolutionary ages, too.