Answers in Genesis — Creation Geology

The creation scientists at Answers in Genesis (AIG) are answering the mail again. This is their new article: Feedback: Dating Rocks Helps Creation Scientists.

It’s by Dr. Andrew A. Snelling, AIG’s Director of Research. He’s a geologist. Here’s a link to his impressive biography. This is the question AIG received:

Isn’t everything relatively the same age with only a few days difference? If God created all matter in 6 days and matter can neither be created nor destroyed in our universe then isn’t everything the relatively the same age? So why do people try to ‘date’ rocks etc. if everything was created in 6 days. Don’t we already know when all things were created?

Good question! Here are some excerpts from Snelling’s response. We’re omitting some scripture quotes and links, and we’re also adding a bit of bold font for emphasis:

You are, of course, quite correct that, based on the authority of the Bible, God created the universe in six days, and therefore, all the original matter God created during those six days should be relatively the same age. That’s what God’s Word clearly teaches.

All right! That makes geology simple. Everything we see is 6,000 years old. Let’s read on:

Subsequent to the Creation Week, the history of the earth unfolds in the book of Genesis with the Curse and then, about 1,650 years later, the cataclysmic global Flood in the days of Noah. At that time the whole face of the earth was changed, as the waters that covered the earth eroded rock materials and swept away all the creatures “in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life” (Genesis 7:22) that weren’t on board Noah’s Ark. Thus, billions of plants and dead animals were buried in rock layers laid down by water catastrophically all over the earth. In a relative sense these rock layers are therefore younger than the rock layers created by God during the Creation Week.

What? Those rocks were still created during the First Week, weren’t they? He continues:

Similarly, during the Creation Week there was a sequence of events over those six days during which God created the different components of the universe and the earth. Thus, on Day One we are told He created the earth, and it was covered in water. Subsequently, on Day Three He created the dry land.

He discusses geological events during Creation Week (as if he were there) and then declares:

Thus, we can see that on the basis of God’s Word we could expect different rock layers to have different relative ages — based on the model I described above, the Day Three rocks would be younger than the Day One rocks of Creation Week; the Flood rocks are younger still; and any post-Flood rocks are the youngest of all. These relative age relationships can be seen in the stacking of the rock layers around the earth.

That still doesn’t change the age of the rocks. Even if it did, it’s only a matter of days — Flood or no Flood. Here’s more:

As I said before, we know from God’s Word the absolute age of the original created rock materials. They are about 6,000 years old. Similarly, we know from God’s Word that the Flood occurred about 1,650 years after the Creation, so therefore, Flood rocks are about 4,350 years old.

Huh? Moving along:

Not all rock layers across the earth’s surface are exposed to view in canyons like the Grand Canyon. In many places there are just isolated outcrops, so it is difficult to determine where those rock layers fit into the relative sequence of Creation Week rock layers, Flood rock layers, and post-Flood rock layers. Not all Flood rocks have visible fossils in them. So in a relative sense we could use some of the dating methods to give us the relative ages of such isolated rocks so that once they are placed in the biblical sequence of earth history we would know their absolute ages.

Are you following this? It doesn’t seem that Snelling is doing anything to date rocks, other than consulting his bible. Another excerpt:

Ironically, the radioactive dating methods, though flawed in terms of being able to provide absolute ages, may still help us derive relative ages. For instance, older rocks dating back to the Creation Week should have more radioactive decay products (daughter elements) in them than the younger Flood rocks. And this is what we do find.

Wow — radioactive dating methods confirm creationism. We never knew that! On with the article:

Of course, secular geologists use the same radioactive dating methods to yield interpreted ages for the rocks in terms of millions and billions of years. However, they derive these interpreted ages because they assume that radioactive decay rates have always been constant over millions and billions of years of the slow rates at which we measure these processes today. But the geologists were not there over the supposed millions and billions of years to check and measure that the radioactive decay rates have always been constant at today’s slow rates. This is an assumption they make, which is absolutely contradicted as wrong by God’s Word.

Right. Creation scientists, on the other hand, know that rates of radioactive decay in the past were whatever is necessary to confirm the biblical chronology. We can’t go on with this thing so we’ll jump to the end:

So thanks again for your enquiry. I hope these brief comments are a help to you.

Oh yeah — a big help. Now we understand everything. Well, not quite everything. For example, The Flood should have distributed fossils of every type all over the globe, or at least they should be distributed randomly — some Tyrannosaurus rex fossils should be in Australia, and others at the North Pole. That’s not what we find; instead, we find them localized, presumably where they lived. Nor do similar (and presumably related) species — whether living or recently fossilized — radiate outward from the landing place of the Ark to their present-day habitats. We’re confident that AIG has the answer to these problems. Perhaps one day they’ll reveal it to us.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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34 responses to “Answers in Genesis — Creation Geology

  1. Per Snelling, existing fossils were deposited during the flood. However, many of these fossils are dated by testing layers of volcanic ash above and below them – were these volcanoes erupting during the flood? If so, how did they deposit their layers of ash so precisely – sometimes actually encasing ancient trees and other living organisms, which presumably at the time would have been covered by great depths of water.

    Also, there’s that world-wide iridium layer, at the K-T boundary. There are many fossils above the layer, and numerous different fossils below the layer, all of which, per Snelling, died and were buried in the flood. How did the flood create the iridium layer?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  2. Dating Rocks Helps Creation Scientists…nobody else will go out with them!

  3. Ceteris Paribus

    Dr Snelling explains: But the geologists were not there over the supposed millions and billions of years to check and measure that the radioactive decay rates have always been constant at today’s slow rates. This is an assumption they make, which is absolutely contradicted as wrong by God’s Word.

    God’s own word. Can’t beat that evidence. One only wishes Snelling’s god had been content with merely playing in his sandbox, trying out different effects with radioactive decay rates. At least for a couple of thousand milennia until he got his awsome powers calibrated.

    Too bad god rushed his own learning curve, and wound up smiting entire countries and tribes, repeatedly, before he was able to pick out and choose individuals such as Job for his targets

  4. His academic achievements notwithstanding, Snelling has metamorphosed into a weapons-grade kook and moron. Snelling is no more a scientist than my wife’s poodle.

  5. Stephen Kennedy

    This claim for acceleration of radioactive decay rates is one that I find to be particularly egregious. I am retired from medical practice now after suffering a massive stroke but when I was practicing medicine I was a Nuclear Medicine physician. In Nuclear Medicine we use radioactive isotopes to diagnose and sometimes treat disease in patients.

    Knowing precisely what the decay rate of radioisotopes of elements of technicium and iodine are and being absolutely confident that those rates do not change under any circumstances is essential to making the practice of Nuclear Medicine possible. We can have confidence in our diagnoses and treatments since physicists have found that the radioactive decay rate of radioisotopes is a quantum mechanics determined process that takes place in the nucleus, is unique to each radioisotope and is absolutely impossible to change.

    I realize that everyone who works at AiG is a creationist idiot but after reading this worthless verbiage by Snelling, I am convinced that he is one of their most profoundly intellectually challenged imbeciles. Despite what his biography might say he has no credibility as a scientist. He truly fits into the category of “ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked”.

  6. Alex Shuffell

    I like Snelly’s method. Einstein used a similar technique for inventing his theories of relativity. Einstein started off with the speed of light being as absolute as our modern translations of Genesis. From this point he had to beat physics into submission around this dogma. Einstein ended up predicting time speeds up and slows down depending on how you look at it (Was Chopra right that photons carry consciousness? How do they know?) and that space warps. But how can nothing warp? And a lot of other crazy predictions that came with that mess. If Einstein can do that 100 years ago, (without the internet!), Snelly can do this today because he has a computer and everything.

  7. Shuffell: “But how can nothing warp?”

    Your mind contains nothing, and it’s warped. The constancy of the speed of light is an experimental observation, not an assumption, and is not analogous to Biblical literalism. Time is relative to the observer. Get over it.
    — Diogenes

  8. “The past history of our globe, must be explained by what can be seen to be happening now”. “Nothing more is required but time”…..James Hutton

  9. I remind the readers of the creationist version of the second law of thermodynamics, which says that things cannot be put in an order except by an intelligent designer. Therefore, the appearance of age in the rocks must have been intelligently designed to have that appearance.

  10. Sir Walter Scott’s lament from Marmion springs to mind here: “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive!

    Echoing Stephen Kennedy’s points, one wonders what sort of mathematical model the cretinists propose for their assumption of decreasing radioactive decay rates that manage to make several billion years look like a few thousand — a difference of six orders of magnitude. One similarly wonders what sort of physical mechanism they would confabulate (other than “Goddidit!,” that is) that could produce this effect in violation of the masses of evidence supporting QM. Any such effect should still be observable/testable today, given the huge disparity in measurement results that it produces.

    I know, I know. I’m confronting the Asininity in Genesis crowd with reasonable inferences, and that’s a sure-fire losing strategy ’cos they gots their Holey Babble ’n’ stuffs.

  11. Shuffell: And a lot of other crazy predictions that came with that mess. If Einstein can do that 100 years ago, (without the internet!), Snelly can do this today because he has a computer and everything.

    Since it appears that you slept through much of your high science courses I will remind you that science is about being testable explanations. Shortly After in 1911 Einstein made his crazy predictions he had calculated that, based on his new theory of general relativity, light from another star would be bent by the Sun’s gravity. That prediction was claimed confirmed by observations made by a British expedition led by Sir Arthur Eddington during the solar eclipse of 29 May 1919 (Wikipedia).

    So what bold new science is testable based on Snelly’s predictions? Is he busily proving that radioactive decay in past has been variable? No. Is he doing an intricate analysis of how the floods in six days created all of the layers of the earth that we presently observe? No, it’s just more of the same nonsense from boring, ignorant men claiming to speak for some god in absolute terms when in fact their only agenda is control of other ignorant men. Please go and read a science book!

  12. If Smelling were right, and a miracle super-accelerated radioactive decay by a factor of a billion for a year, the energy released from the Earth’s mantle and crust would melt the earth.

    Also all organisms have potassium in them and a small fraction of that is radioactive K40. If you accelerate its decay by a factor of a billion, Noah’s body alone would put out enough radiation to kill himself and any cockroaches in his vicinity.

    — Diogenes

  13. Also, they’ve thrown out the Fine Tuning argument when they say the laws of physics were different in the past. Fine Tuning argument assumes if you change ANY law of physics even a little, no life can exist anywhere in the universe. Flood Geology says EVERY law of physics, chemistry and geology radically changed by a factor of a billion for a year, and no one felt anything or noticed physics was different, nothing died or got sick as a result, and the Bible didn’t even think to mention it.

    Smelling, however, very dishonestly writes that changes in the laws of nuclear physics are described in the Bible. The Bible makes no mention of nuclear physics, or any laws of physics, no nuclei, no atoms, no acceleration, no nothing. No mention of any geological processes that make rocks, nor of any changes in the processes.

    — Diogenes

  14. Well that changes everything!

    Just yesterday, in McLeroy country (Texas) no less, they voted to accept that “Darwinist” textbook. Even those who tried desperately to find fault with it had only petty quibbles and complaints that it supposedly claimed what it does not, if you read the full context. But they did not once challenge the “~4 billion years of common descent” that most evolution-deniers find more objectionable than anything else about evolution. Remember, those are the supposed “creationist” detractors, not the ones who found their “challenges” clearly bogus!

    But now that we have a young-earth “theory” there’s no need whatever for bogus “where are the transitionals?” or “what good is half a wing?” or “2LoT disproves evolution” nonsense. No need whatever to teach evolution, let alone have students hear blatant misrepresentations dishonestly peddled as “critical analysis.” Students can now learn YEC and only YEC. Strengths and weaknesses of course. 😉

  15. Snelling’s blathering propaganda takes such liberties with what the bible actually says I don’t know how a devout Christian that has actually read the bible (most don’t) could take him seriously.

    For the rest of us he’s just another chew toy to be played with.

  16. I am not sure if you guys are being too hard on Alex, I am reading this as a good ironic piece, and not one that backs up the post. Then again it could just be me

  17. Alex Shuffell

    It’s not just you Flakey, I thought Alex did a good ironic piece too. It’s difficult to get across tone in text. That is why I called him Snelly and added the Chopra reference thinking it should be obvious I was taking the piss. I’m sorry guys.

    When Einstein invented Special Relativity I seriously thought he assumed light was absolute and that there was no experimental evidence precise enough back then. His assumptions based on Maxwell’s equations, the work of Lorentz and later DeSitter. But they still assumed the Ether, that time was absolute, and It was thought that the speed of light depended on the velocity of the object light was propagated from. Einstein talks about this quite a bit in Part 1 chapter VII of “Relativity The Special & The General Theory.” Of course I could be very wrong. I genuinely have no idea how mass can warp space, if any of you guys know I would be very grateful.

  18. It’s difficult to understand how Snelling got a doctorate. His writing does not enhance the reputations of the Australian universities listed in his biography.

  19. Diogenes

    Last night I commented on the same Snelling article as follows at the BCSE community forum:

    “”The Apostle Peter in 2 Peter 3 tells us of scoffers who will argue that the rates of natural processes have always been the same as today’s process rates because they deliberately reject God’s testimony of the Creation Week and the Flood, when He supernaturally intervened so that process rates were instant during the Creation Week and catastrophically faster during the Flood compared to the slow rates that man observes today. This probably included the speeding up of radioactive decay, at least during the Flood, which can be seen from the results obtained during the RATE (Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth) research project, the results of which have been published in two technical volumes and in the book Thousands . . . Not Billions”.
    2 Peter 3 teaches NO SUCH THING. Snelling’s attempt to make it refer to geology is EISEGESIS.
    http://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/2%20Peter%203
    According to Peter’s text the scoffers simply questioned the Second Coming (and Judgement) because events they experienced seemed no different to historical events – and in saying this they ‘forgot’, apparently deliberately, about ‘Creation’ and about Noah’s Flood (and thus past Judgement). The verses are not obviously about geological processes, they are about God’s JUDGEMENT past and future”.

  20. Alex Shuffell

    retiredscienceguy, according to his bio at the AiG website his doctorate is in philosophy (geology) and his BSc in applied geology. He may have been able to get through all of that without learning anything.

  21. I saw a recent Youtube video that really puts a nail in the coffin for a less than 10,000 year geological history. Consider all the volcanoes we can identify across the world. When a volcano erupts magma of course comes out but also a large amount of toxic gas. If all the world’s volcanoes were to erupt to their current size in the short span of less than 10,000 years the Earth’s atmosphere would be toxic.

  22. Alex: my apologies for not picking up the irony.

  23. @Troy says: “When a volcano erupts magma of course comes out but also a large amount of toxic gas. If all the world’s volcanoes were to erupt to their current size in the short span of less than 10,000 years the Earth’s atmosphere would be toxic.”

    This is correct. Geologist Glenn Morton did calculations on the total amount of toxic gases emitted if all volcanoes happened simultaneously during Noah’s Flood: http://web.archive.org/web/20120212195716/http://home.entouch.net/dmd/letter.htm. He submitted this to a creationist journal, which refused to print the article.

    Note that the original link is dead, because Morton, an ex-creationist, converted to our side, and then turned against us (because he’s a GW denier and hates the New Atheists) and deleted his old, quite excellent, posts on the topic of geology, lest they fall into the hands of the hated PZ Myers et al. Many, not all of his old articles are still archived at Wayback Machine. But his old battles at TheologyWeb against Jonathan Sarfati are gone for good, alas.

    Morton also showed that all that volcanic activity would make ocean waters toxically acidic: http://web.archive.org/web/20120614103033/http://home.entouch.net/dmd/acid.htm.

  24. Ashley: the falsification of 2 Peter 3 is far worse even than your (correct) charge of eisegesis.

    Worse than that, Ken Ham’s Creation Museum literally alters the text of the Bible in order to make 2 Peter 3 appear to be an ad hominem attack, meaning that scientists today are stupid and “willfully ignorant.”

    The alleged text of 2 Peter 3 is reproduced on a wall at Ham’s museum. See here: http://camelswithhammers.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/creation-museum-scoffers.jpg, or alternatively here http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-hjxgfCvMoss/T5IeXl3585I/AAAAAAAACZI/3Py7JVNeK2E/s1600/CreationMuseum+063.jpg.

    Notice anything? Ham changed the text. It’s strategically stitched together from different translations with and several important phrases left out deliberately to change the meaning.

    Ken Ham’s version: “There shall come in the last days SCOFFERS, saying “all things continue as they were from the the beginning.”
    For they are WILLFULLY IGNORANT that by the WORD OF GOD the heavens were of old, and the world that was then, being overflowed with water, perished.” [capitalization in original; see http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-hjxgfCvMoss/T5IeXl3585I/AAAAAAAACZI/3Py7JVNeK2E/s1600/CreationMuseum+063.jpg%5D

    That’s mostly from the King James version, but the phrase “WILLFULLY IGNORANT” [caps in original] is not, because the KJV is not insulting and ad hominem enough– KJV has “For this they willingly are ignorant of”, not insulting enough, so here they paste in an altered version of the 21st century King James version, which has “For of this they are willfully ignorant”, but Ham drops the “of this”.

    They completely leave out the bit about Jesus promising to return within a generation, and breaking his promise. They also delete the bit about “the earth standing out of the water and in the water” because it’s Flat Earth cosmology.

    Here is the full text of the KJV, with boldface for the parts that Ken Ham strategically deleted to change the meaning.

    3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,

    4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

    5 For this they willingly are ignorant of [21st century KJV: For of this they are willfully ignorant; Ken Ham: For they are WILLFULLY IGNORANT], that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:

    6 Whereby the world that then was [21st century KJV: as it then was; Ken Ham: that was then], being overflowed with water, perished:

  25. Thanks for your great sleuthing, Diogenes. I wonder if Ham has fear of what God might do to those who deliberately alter His word…

    Oh, I relish the thought!

  26. I’m not a geologist but I think I can help with the confusion on the age of the rocks. There are basically 2 types of rocks, igneous and sedimentary. Igneous rocks are created in volcanoes whereas sedimentary are created by layers of sediment being compressed under there own weight.
    What Snelling says is correct, from his perspective. His big daddy in the sky created the initial lot of both sedimentary and igneous rocks but more of both would be created in the time from creation week to Noah, so there would be younger igneous rocks laying around which would be buried in the sedimentary rock layers.
    As far as dating the rocks is concerned, I believe it is only possible to date igneous rocks via radio metric dating methods as there is no way to tell the initial proportions of mother/daughter elements in the sedimentary layers where as we know the starting values of igneous rocks by studying igneous rock that has just been created from the latest volcanic event. So sedimentary layers are dated by dating the igneous rocks that are found in them (or, if no igneous rocks exist in some layer, by dating the layers above and below).

    Of course there are still many inconsistencies in Snellings analysis, but he is able to talk about some rock being younger without being inconsistent to some of the known geological events and his thoughts on the bible and when the initial rocks were created.

  27. Guy, you were correct in your first sentence — you are not a geologist.

    First off, there are three main types of rock. You left out “metamorphic”, which are rocks changed by heat alone or by heat and pressure.

    More importantly, the minerals that make up sedimentary rock started out as igneous ultimately. They were weathered and eroded down to small particles, then carried by water, glaciers, and wind to be deposited, either as glacial deposits such as moraines, wind deposits such as dunes and loess, and of course, deposits in the oceans. All of this weathering, erosion, transportation, and deposition takes eons of time.

    Then, thanks to plate tectonics, some of this sedimentary rock gets squeezed by converging plates to become metamorphic rock or remelted to form igneous again. And this has been going on for about 4.6 billion years, give or take a week or two.

    How Snelling could have studied geology for four years and learned nothing of the overwhelming evidence for this is beyond comprehension.

  28. Also, Guy, sedimentary layers can be dated by dating the igneous rock found above and below them, or by dating cross-cutting igneous intrusions. For instance, if a vertical igneous dike cuts across horizontal sedimentary layers and the sedimentary rock has been altered by the heat of the magma, we can safely assume the sedimentary rock is older than the igneous. Therefore, any fossils found within that sedimentary rock are also older than the igneous, so we now have a minimum age for the living organisms that formed the fossils.

    A favorite saying of a favorite geology professor was “Mother Nature doesn’t lie. The mission of geologists is learning her language.”

    There are many, many excellent textbooks on the subject, ranging from jr. high through college level. I’d recommend a trip to your library, then dig deeper at Wikipedia. Learning about how we know what we know about the earth is truly fascinating.

  29. retiredsciguy says: “How Snelling could have studied geology for four years and learned nothing of the overwhelming evidence for this is beyond comprehension.”

    It’s quite understandable. If everything is only a few thousand years old, why bother with all those details? Igneous, wigneous — what’s the difference, really?

  30. Thanks to Diogenes for pointing out this additional contradiction in YEC:
    Fine Tuning argument assumes if you change ANY law of physics even a little, no life can exist anywhere in the universe. Flood Geology says EVERY law of physics, chemistry and geology radically changed by a factor of a billion for a year, and no one felt anything or noticed physics was different, nothing died or got sick as a result.

  31. The entire YEC argument that “we can’t know that the radioactive decay rates were constant because we weren’t there,” often stated more generally as “radiometric dating methods use unprovable assumptions” fails, because the isochron method provides an internal self-check on the validity of the assumptions. If the dates of multiple samples fall on an isochron, that shows that the initial amount of daughter product can be calculated (and, by inference, that the decay rates remained stable throughout the rock’s history). If they don’t fall on an isochron, one knows that the rock has not had an undisturbed geological history. Details in any good textbook; the one I’m reading now is Dalrymple’s “The Age of the Earth”.

    Snelling either knows this, and does not mention it, in which case he’s dishonest, or he doesn’t know it, in which case he’s incompetent. For my money, I think the latter is probably true (as he works at AiG); if he were dishonest, I think it would be more likely for him to be at the DI (not that AiG isn’t dishonest; just that dishonesty is the central, defining characteristic of the DI).

  32. “This is an assumption they make, which is absolutely contradicted as wrong by God’s Word.”
    It would be soooo nice if God’s word also had explained superconductivity. Then we hadn’t had to struggle with the outdated BCS-theory anymore.

  33. Diogenes
    Some Christians accuse Ham of being ‘liberal’ for adding to what scripture actually says or means, especially in Genesis.

  34. Snelling is two faced. He has not practised as a geologist for many years. But when he was, he was an old earth one; he would have been laughed out of town if he wasn’t.
    Then, in his creation-mode, he became a YEC.
    See http://www.noanswersingenesis.org.au/realsnelling.htm