Re: [BULK] - Re: Mt. St. Helens and catastrophism

From: Don Winterstein <>
Date: Fri Aug 19 2005 - 03:26:39 EDT

Doug Hayworth wrote:

"...It would sure be nice if someone did put
together some good photographs that compare the Mt. St. Helens formations
to the real Grand Canyon and other superficially similar formations."

Layered formations express themselves in endless variety in outcrop. This means it's likely that photos of such layers exist that are visually indistinguishable in their important features from a photo of Mt. St. Helens formations. In the one case the layers may have spanned, say, a 10 million year time interval, in the other case an interval of perhaps less than a year. So any argument based on analysis of photographs in however much detail is unlikely to be convincing.

In fact, if I wanted to make a point for YE and against OE with Mt. St. Helens data, I'd probably find just such a photo of rock layers that spanned millions of years and then write up my story.

But there are pedagogical opportunities here. Think of what the person who does such a thing must be implicitly assuming: His picture of a geologist must be of someone who, upon seeing a stratified outcrop, says, "Gosh, there are lots of layers here. These rocks must be millions of years old." In other words, he must be assuming that the scientist is a little stupid and that he's given to brash non sequiturs. The teacher would then point out that, while scientists are not infallible, they are not quite so stupid; that geologists know the existence of rock layers does not in itself imply great age; and that scientists actually determine rock age via complicated processes that require far more effort than simple visual inspection.


  ----- Original Message -----
  To:<> ;<>
  Sent: Thursday, August 18, 2005 6:34 AM
  Subject: Re: [BULK] - Re: Mt. St. Helens and catastrophism

  Thanks, Don. I'm sure you are right that this is why no one has bothered to
  write such a rebuttal. However, it would sure be nice if someone did put
  together some good photographs that compare the Mt. St. Helens formations
  to the real Grand Canyon and other superficially similar formations. Then,
  the many and fundamental differences could be outlined and illustrated
  clearly. This would help me in preparing an alternative discussion of a
  particular chapter in a popular homeschooling textbook for 7th grade earth


                        "Don Winterstein"
                        <dfwinterstein@ms<mailto:dfwinterstein@ms> To: "asa" <<>>, <<>>
              > cc:
                        Sent by: Subject: [BULK] - Re: Mt. St. Helens and catastrophism
                        08/18/05 03:52 AM

  Unless he had Glenn Morton's level of motivation to fight YECs, why would a
  qualified geologist bother rebutting such arguments in detail?

  Stratification as a rule is a secondary indicator of rock age: Layering by
  itself simply indicates that different materials were deposited at
  different times and (almost always) that upper layers formed later than
  lower layers. It cannot say anything precise about how much later. If
  samples are available only from a small area, it would take detailed
  analyses of layer constituents (e.g. index fossils) to get a quantitative
  idea of layer age. Fossils in the recently formed St. Helens strata are
  certain to be all of contemporary organisms, and hence analyses of them
  would correctly indicate that all the layers formed over a short time

  Strata in volcanic rock are by themselves wholly irrelevant to a case
  either for or against YE. (I'm curious as to why anyone should have
  thought they were relevant!) Geology does not argue (except in special
  cases unrelated to volcanics--e.g. varved shales) that stratification by
  itself is relevant for determining the age of a rock or the time required
  to form it.

  You need more than this?!


   ----- Original Message -----
   Sent: Wednesday, August 17, 2005 12:35 PM
   Subject: Mt. St. Helens and catastrophism

   Have any qualified geologists written a good rebuttal of the popular YEC
   argument for catastrophism that is based on deposition of stratified rock
   and formation canyons that occured in the Mt. St. Helens eruption? I think
   the original creationist analysis was by Steve Austin (the six million
   dollar man?), and I am seeing it cited frequently in YEC literature.

   If a published detailed rebuttal does exist, I'd really like to know about
   it. I'd like to find both a detailed "high-level" analysis version and a
   simplified "layperson" version of such a rebuttal. I quite sure that
   however stratified the eruption flows and deposits appear in Austin's
   photographs, detailed inspection of the layers would easily demonstrate
   that they are manifestly different that stratification that occurred by
   normal processes over millions of years. It's just that I haven't been to
   the site and I don't have the qualifications to describe those

Received on Fri Aug 19 16:38:12 2005

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