Figure this: three scientists from Indiana University and MIT have done some flume experiments on mud deposits. The results have been published in a four-page article in Science (summary), issue of December 14. The day before that, physorg picks up their story. On December 27, a christian apologist picks it up and writes about it on his blog.
What’s all the fuss about? Well, it’s about mud. Mud is composed of very small particles that only settle in still waters, so whenever we find mudstone we know it was deposited in a very calm environment, and very slowly. Or so we thought, because our scientists have found out that mud can actually deposit in waters that flow at much higher speeds than ‘still’. For this to happen clay needs to flocculate which creates mud particles that behave somewhat like sand. In their flume experiments they managed to create mud ripples that looked very much like sand ripples. Clay flocculation has been a known process for a long time. Faster deposition of mud has been too. The present research only adds a wider variation of environments in which it can take place.
The scientists think their research will enable builders of harbours and canals to design their structures in such a way that the accumulation of mud is prevented, or at least lessened. A rather humble but very useful application. Well done!
It takes a christian to point out the ramifications on a larger scale: ‘What about the complete undermining of current theory of geologic ages of rock strata?’ (Hm, I didn’t know the complete theory of rock ages was solely based on deposition rates of mud), ‘this is another example of the uniformitarian view—a little water, a long time—giving way to the possibility that geological landscapes were formed by massive amounts of turbulent water over a short period of time’.
The uniformitarian model has already long ago been refined by allowing for catastrophic events -e.g. the Chixulub meteor at the end of the Cretaceous or the sudden emptying of Lake Agassiz at the end of the last ice age- and ho! wait! just a second! No one, literally no one is talking about ‘massive amounts of turbulent water’, just ‘higher speeds of flow’. Where do these ‘massive amounts of water’ suddenly come from? Well: ‘When we view the geologic record through the lens of a Biblical understanding we would expect to find millions of dead things buried in sediment laid down quickly by water all over the Earth’. And for those who haven’t taken the hint yet: ‘For more thorough research into this issue please utilize the resources available at Answers In Genesis‘.
I don’t get these people. Genesis was not written as an introduction to geology. It was not written to tell how the world was created, but why. Its writers used Sumerian, Babylonian, Canaanite, Persian, Egyptian and Greek world views, notions, anecdotes and stories to make their point and they did that somewhere in the fifth century BC. A time when no one knew or suspected anything about geology, when any reference to geology would have fallen on deaf ears. And its point is not geology, it’s humanity.
Genesis is literature and should be read as literature. This is what made it survive twenty-five centuries. It’s what made it sacred to no less than three religions and its stories known to a fourth. It is no less sacred for being ‘just’ literature. In fact, calling it ‘just literature’ is defiling it in much the same way as treating it as a geology book. ‘Forgive them; for they know not what they do’