When reading this review I came to ponder if the author(s) either lacks the ability to understand the scientific article in question or willfully decided to distort what was written by misstating what the article set forth.
Geologists were baffled.Ã‚Â Something moved rocks up to 3,000 miles across whole continents.Ã‚Â They found evidence in Asia and also in America.Ã‚Â How on earth could that happen?Ã‚Â Their list of explanations omitted one possibility: the transporting power of water. Maybe itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s because it would have implied a global flood like the world had never seen.
There are more false statements here than any bearing truth.
1) Nowhere in the article do the geologists state they were baffled, or show that this was the case. Why should they be? They did analysis of data and reached conclusions consistent with the data. None of the conclusions are outside of what is possible from known geologic principles involving natural laws.
2) There is no claim that rocks were moved up to 3,000 miles and across whole continents. The evidence reported does not show that rocks moved such distances, only that a portion of sediments that would come to be rocks appear to have been transported long distances. The paper does not even study or discuss whether or not rocks moved, except vertically, such as what happens in orogenic movement.
3) It is implicit or stated outright in several places in the article that transportation of the sediments involved was by water. Water driven transportation is directly stated in the last item of the list given in the conclusions of the article "5) production of significant relief, providing stream power for large-scale river systems" yet this review has the audacity to state Ã¢â‚¬Å“Their list of explanations omitted one possibility: the transporting power of water.Ã¢â‚¬Å“
4) There is not support in the data obtained in the study for a global flood. There is evidence to the contrary. From the proportions of zircon grains dated the same or of different ages there are multiple sources indicated that were derived from multiple orogenic episodes occurring millions of years apart. This is not consistent with a single global flood. But quite frankly no one single pulse of sediment over such distances is consistent with a global flood as postulated by the biblical account or any study of stratigraphy and sedimentation done to date. The only way to get this to occur is through special pleading of a flood unlike anything known to happen in floods.
An international team publishing in the GSA Bulletin wrote about Ã¢â‚¬Å“Extraordinary transport and mixing of sediment across Himalayan central Gondwana during the CambrianÃ¢â‚¬â€œOrdovician.Ã¢â‚¬Â1Ã‚Â They found similar detrital zircon samples across a wide swath of the Himalayan foothills, covering Ã¢â‚¬Å“great distancesÃ¢â‚¬Â of at least 3000 km and perhaps as much as 5000 km.Ã‚Â They used assumptions to rule out time as a factor, suggesting that this Ã¢â‚¬Å“extraordinaryÃ¢â‚¬Â transport of material occurred at one time. What does it imply?Ã‚Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“In any case, by examining samples within a small window of well-constrained depositional ages from across the length of the Himalayan range, our data not only indicate extraordinary transport distances, but a high degree of sediment mixing and homogenization.Ã¢â‚¬ÂÃ‚Â They emphasized it again: Ã¢â‚¬Å“In this regard, both transport distances and sediment mixing within early Gondwana are extraordinary for the geologic record.Ã¢â‚¬ÂÃ‚Â It likely applies to Ã¢â‚¬Å“much, if not the whole of GondwanaÃ¢â‚¬Â (the hypothetical supercontinent that broke up into todayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s continents).
Ã¢â‚¬Å“One time?Ã¢â‚¬Â Well, only if you consider a number of sedimentation pulses or episodes taking place during an interval of 50 million years to fit such a definition. This review is really distorting what was written as the article does not suggest this at all. The authors limited the study to rocks formed from sedimentation taking place within an interval
of time when orogenic events were shedding sediments into the Tethyan depocenter at different rates. The article is careful to use the term Ã¢â‚¬Å“time intervalÃ¢â‚¬Â not just Ã¢â‚¬Å“timeÃ¢â‚¬Â as misused here.
The article hinges on radiometric age dates. These dates are the only thing separating and distinguishing the zircons found in any of the samples. The rocks are not the same in other aspects. The reason that they used limits on the time interval they set was apparently to limit the sampled zircons to primary deposition related to the ongoing related orgenies and exclude the effects of later reworking which would blur the results. Notice that the dating technique used, based on the proportion of uranium to lead is not mentioned in the review of the article? I would guess that this is since creationists in general attack radiometric dating and call it unreliable and unusable. But it is the foundation upon which the conclusion of long distance transport is based in this and other studies. Ã¢â‚¬Å“TimeÃ¢â‚¬Â was not ruled out in regards to the dating of the zircons or in the use of fossils and biostratigraphy to define the limits of the time interval the authors used to limit the scope of their study. How many creationist reviews of other scientific articles dismiss the articles on the basis of their using radiometric or biostratigraphic methods of dating? So why make any case for the results found in this study?
The Himalayas are not the only location.Ã‚Â They referred to evidence published earlier that assigns the origin of many of the Grand Canyon sediments to the Appalachian mountains thousands of kilometers to the east (09/15/2003).Ã‚Â
Yes, the study of Dickson and Gehrels published in 2003 is cited. But so are several others such as DeCelles et al., 2000, Squire et al., 2006, Yoshida and Upreti, 2006, and Cawood et al., 2007. Also a modern example of long distance transport is cited. (Amidon et al., 2005). In the Appalachian study only a small portion of Grand Canyon sediments were assigned to a distant source, and these were dated using the same methods as this current paper to rather vastly different ages (involving differences of hundreds of millions of years).
Again, extraordinary long-distance transport mechanisms must have been in operation.Ã‚Â
No, the article did not say that extraordinary Ã¢â‚¬Å“mechanismsÃ¢â‚¬Â of transportation were in operation. It said that a set of conditions seemed to setup the possibility of such transport and the results left in the geologic record may be rather unique due to those conditions.
What could possibly do it?Ã‚Â Their short list of possible mechanisms omits one that creation geologists would probably be saying is intuitively obvious: a global flood.Ã‚Â
Not only is this not obvious, but the Ã¢â‚¬Å“global floodÃ¢â‚¬Â option cannot account for the data that was analyzed.
The causes of such a pattern might be unique to time and place, and may include a combination of (1) lack of continental vegetation, (2) clustering of continents near the equator, (3) increased continental weathering rates, (4) widespread uplift and erosion associated with regionally extensive and relatively synchronous orogenesis [mountain-building] recording supercontinental amalgamation, and (5) production of significant relief, providing stream power for large-scale river systems.
A closer look reveals that none of those mechanisms contradicts a global flood; in fact, they would each appear to be consequences of one.Ã‚Â What else would produce any one or a combination of those causes?Ã‚Â
This is largely not a list of mechanisms, but is more a list of conditions. Item #5 involves a mechanism. Some of what is listed is not compatible with the account of the flood in the Bible.
Composite explanations are generally avoided in science because of OckhamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Razor: Ã¢â‚¬Å“plurality should not be posited without necessity.Ã¢â‚¬ÂÃ‚Â If a scientist explains the yard being wet by saying, Ã¢â‚¬Å“It might have rained, or the sprinklers might have come on, or a water-spraying truck drove by,Ã¢â‚¬Â the power of the explanation is decreased.Ã‚Â Here, the scientists admitted that something extraordinary Ã¢â‚¬â€œ something possibly unique in the geologic record Ã¢â‚¬â€œ occurred to move sediments so far at one time.Ã‚Â (Notice, incidentally, this amounts to a rejection of uniformitarianism.)Ã‚Â Nothing like that is seen happening today.Ã‚Â Special pleading is also to be avoided when explaining things scientifically, but isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t that what they just did?Ã‚Â They did not explain with reference to natural law and observable, repeatable processes.Ã‚Â They said, essentially, that an extraordinary one-time effect might have been caused by five things or any combination of them.Ã‚Â On the surface of it, the explanation sounds weak.
First of all nothing in the article rejects uniformitarianism. What we are offered here is a straw man concept of uniformitarianism. But even so, a modern example of long distance transportation is cited for modern river sediments along the Himalayan front. The irony of an advocate of a global flood (unlike any ever seen since) claiming that this article resorts to Ã¢â‚¬Å“special pleadingÃ¢â‚¬Â is evident. Anyway, this is not used in explaining the results in the study. They did in fact reference natural and observable processes throughout the paper.
They did not claim a Ã¢â‚¬Å“one-timeÃ¢â‚¬Â effect. The article does not claim that what they found was possibly unique in the geologic record in terms of moving sediments so far at one time. Once again this is a distortion of what was written. They emphatically did not make such a claim of Ã¢â‚¬Å“one timeÃ¢â‚¬Â as it is meant to be taken here. Is a period of 50 million years Ã¢â‚¬Å“one timeÃ¢â‚¬Â ?Ã¢â‚¬Â¦this review would have us assume that this is what the paper stated. The study wasn't even limited to Cambrian times but bridged into Ordovian times. Studies from other portions of the geologic record showing similar transportation distances are cited in the paper. What they felt might be unique was that such distances and sediment mixing might apply to Ã¢â‚¬Å“much if not the whole of GondwanaÃ¢â‚¬Â and they cite a study from 2006.
It is true that the sedimentary processes that result in stratified rocks can involve multiple processes. Perhaps that is why it takes years of study to master the principles of geology. But in reading Steve Austin's explanations of the creation of the Grand Canyon I seemed to note a composite of several different aspects or mechanisms of the flooding event being invoked.
A global flood would produce all 5 effects that the geologists listed as causes: (1) a lack of continental vegetation, because it had been stripped away at the onset of the flood; (2) clustering of continents near the equator, because creationists generally agree the continents split apart as the fountains of the great deep opened; (3) weathering rates increased dramatically (well, duh); (4) widespread uplift and erosion associated with regionally extensive and synchronous mountain building occurred (because the mountain ranges formed as a consequence of the dividing continents, and erosion was intense); and (5) production of significant relief, providing stream power for large-scale river systems, because the new mountains caused dramatic runoff as the waters receded, transporting soft sediments over vast distances.Ã‚Â One more for good measure: a global flood would explain the Ã¢â‚¬Å“high degree of sediment mixing and homogenizationÃ¢â‚¬Â of sediments they observed.
How would invoking a global flood provide a more reasonable explanation of a high degree of sediment mixing and homogenization? As stated this seems to be just arm-waving. The rest of the discussion here misses the point of the paper in question. Some of the five points are really quite inter-related and not really separate causes. Personally I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think the authors expressed themselves all that clearly in places. This is one part where they clearly assume that readers will know some basic geology. They do not explain what they feel will be obvious to an educated reader. The reviewer either misinterprets the intended meaning to make his own creationist point or does not understand the geology involved.
The first comment is really a reminder that there were no land plants in existence during Cambrian times. There was no continental vegetation to be stripped away. That is the point. Such non-existent vegetation did not put a control on erosion and mass wasting of sediments as it would today.
The second comment is also about erosion and not meant to be a statement of the Ã¢â‚¬Å“effectÃ¢â‚¬Â of anything, and certainly not a comment about continents splitting apart. Other geologic studies have shown that this was just the opposite, a time of amalgamation of Gondwana not a time when it was splitting apart. Although not explained by the authors I assume that they were thinking of the increased rainfall that would occur in an equatorial geographical position which would increase erosion and also provide more charging to river systems which would result in greater discharge and a greater ability to carry sediment loads. The third comment is obviously related to this.
The article claims in item #4 Ã¢â‚¬Å“widespread uplift and erosion associated with regionally extensive and relatively synchronous orogenesis recording supercontinental amalgamation.Ã¢â‚¬Â This is not Ã¢â‚¬Å“because the mountain ranges formed as a consequence of the dividing continents, and erosion was intense.Ã¢â‚¬Â Dividing continents do not produce such orogenesis, nor was this a time of such dividing. A comment Ã¢â‚¬Å“production of significant relief, providing stream power for large-scale river systems, because the new mountains caused dramatic runoff as the waters receded, transporting soft sediments over vast distancesÃ¢â‚¬Â is curious to me. What drives this mountain building in the concept of splitting continents associated with Ã¢â‚¬Å“the fountains of the great deepÃ¢â‚¬ÂÃ¢â‚¬Â¦? I think this last phrase seems to comment upon meteoric water entering into the bottom of ocean basins. Just how does this create mountains? The collision of land masses as is assumed in the paper does provide compressional forces that could result in such uplift. But I have a more general observation. The Biblical account of the flood does not mention mountain building. It talks about waters rising but not mountains. If it happened why is this not chronicled there? There is coverage of water covering hills but nothing about creating new ones. I think it is a huge stretch to interpolate such activity. When I was a child and being taught about the flood there was zero talk of mountains being thrust up and above the waters so they could be eroded. Considering how dramatic this would be in the time frame allowed, why is it not mentioned at all? If great mountains rose that had not been there just before the flood, donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t you think it would have been recorded? In its own way that is more fantastic then it raining and raining and everything being covered in water.
In the fifth item the reviwer added to what the paper stated: "production of significant relief, providing stream power for large-scale river systems".....with "because the new mountains caused dramatic runoff as the waters receded, transporting soft sediments over vast distances." Yet there are canyons cut through the rocks produced by such sediments. That is a problem with explanations of geology using the flood as the cause of both sedimentation and the erosive power that created such canyons, especially when it all must be fit into a time frame of only weeks.
Notice that the secular geology explanation cannot account for increased weathering rates, widespread erosion, homogenization, synchronous mountain building and large-scale river systems (cf. 04/30/2009, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Are Secular Geologists Ready to Consider a Global Flood?Ã¢â‚¬Â).Ã‚Â In the current example, the composite, special-pleading scenario in the paper leaves much to be desired as a scientific explanation.Ã‚Â Biblical creationists can point to a single cause that explains all the effects.Ã‚Â They have eyewitness testimony, too: Yes, uh... Noah.
And how can it be claimed that the Ã¢â‚¬Å“secular geology explanationÃ¢â‚¬Â cannot account for what is detailed here? This claim is made with no basis coming from either the discussion given or the paper itself. Special pleading is cited to attack article as poor science. But to me creationism is basically all about special pleading and invoking supernatural occurrences. But the paper in question does not rely upon special pleading and everything discussed within it fits within a geologic model following natural laws. This is unlike much of creationism where there are conflicting ideas set forth in attempts to fit all explanations to fit a single flooding event. Mt. Everest is often explained as being its present place when fossils were deposited on top of it yet dramatic mountain-building and erosion is taking place in the same area as discussed here. Rocks are described as all deposited below wave base and only become part of a dry land landscape when a drop of sea level exposes them with no deformation associated with tectonics. Folded rocks were all created when they were soft by the flood. Yet they were not so soft that they were eroded by violent waters having the force to create such deformation. The flood may be called a single cause, but it is said to cause quite a few vastly different effects needing quite different mechanisms that creationists canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t seem to formulate in a single coherent model.
So we have eyewitnesses to the flooding event? Then why didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t Noah say anything about mountain-building? If great mountains rose that had not been there just before the flood, donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t you think it would have been recorded? In its own way that is more fantastic then it raining and raining and everything being covered in water.