2 Minutes of Silence

We present a new edition of Ideological Education Essentials! (Otherwise known as 'Science' Education Essentials)

It’s the 22nd of February. 365 days since since the earthquake in Christchurch. At time of writing it’s getting closer and closer to 365.25 days, as it happens.

The Student Council at my school decided to hold two minutes of silence to commemorate the anniversary. This was thoroughly mucked up.

For one, they got the wrong time: the quake happened at 12:51 pm, and not 12:57 as they thought. Secondly – due, ironically, to earthquake strengthening – parts of the school are inaccessible and various bells aren’t working. Thus, much of the school did not hear the bell ringing to signify the beginning and end.

But it still happened, albeit as much as 10 minutes late in my Chemistry class.* And that’s all that matters.


Why am I blathering about this here? Well, next in the queue from Science Essentials is Shake, Rattle, and Lift? It’s about natural disasters, especially earthquakes. She begins:

My son is having nightmares. Not different ones, but the same nightmare every night for the past week. You see, his dad is spending time in Haiti on a mission trip. Considered the least developed country in the Western Hemisphere and one of the poorest in the world, Haiti remains on most Christians’ minds. However, that’s not why it’s on my son’s mind. He is scared there will be another earthquake while daddy is there.

Ah, Haiti. There are too many earthquakes in the world. If you’re wondering, later weeks suggest that the father has returned. I’m not sure what you’re supposed to do on a ‘mission’, but that’s not my problem.

Charles Darwin, considered the Father of Evolution, observed the aftereffects of a large earthquake himself. In 1835, off the coast of Chile, Darwin observed a nearby island that was uplifted as a result of the quake. He was able to measure the distance from sea level to the top of the old waterline. However, his conclusion of how that island, and mountain chains in general, got there is in deep contrast with the conclusions of modern mainstream geologists. “In Darwin’s view, a mountain chain, with its axis of plutonic rock, is the effect of ‘an almost infinite series of small movements.’” (Herbert, S. 2005. Charles Darwin, Geologist. Ithica, NY: Cornell University Press, 228.) These movements, he believed, were earthquakes.

I have a feeling that that’s a bit of a quote mine. Mountains build: earthquakes certainly help that.Marine terraces in California

But as we know today, earthquakes are not known to lift continents or mountains. Granted, earthquakes open up large pieces of the ground, and can cause landslides, volcanoes, and tsunamis, but they do not cause a mountain range to appear, or to be lifted higher than it once was. And although Darwin’s future colleagues disagree with his hypothesis, they are still inclined to look to some degree of evolutionary thought in order to explain the existence of today’s high mountain ranges, which instead appear to have been elevated in a recent powerful event.

Er no, that’s completely wrong. Earthquakes do lift things, including mountains. Whatever you say about mountains, they certainly weren’t all raised at once – I believe the Appalachians and the Rockys are usually used to demonstrate that kind of thing. And consider the marine terraces above: what you have there is the coast being uplifted and then eroded several times – that would take awhile, and it’s a genuine case of uplift.

Which type of natural disaster do you find the most scientifically interesting to discuss from a creationist perspective?

Well that’s an odd question. Asteroid impacts, maybe? I mean to say, how was the Fall supposed to divert them into striking Earth? They surely can’t have been always going to hit us…

Now, with the accuracy problems that this post has, there were always going to be comments. The first half-dozen or so were supportive, until:

Besides plate boundaries, one of the other most common places where earthquakes occur is along mountain belts. In my area of Colorado, earthquakes occur along the mountain ranges quite frequently. But here it is mainly because the mountains are wearing down and isostatic rebound is taking place. The Himalayas have been measured to still be rising, and the uplift is associated with many earthquakes. The seismic signatures of these Himalayan quakes can be measured and show to be dominated by compressive stress which logically results in crustal shortening and mountain building.

Yes, this is from “Chris Shorey”. The next one of interest is:

Dr. Forlow,

I have questions concerning the teaching of Geology… From the biblical creationist view,
would a cross section of the earth (with it’s layers) appear to be the same as a drawing that
a secular scientist would produce? Is there agreement there? If not, what are the differences?
Where could I find a biblical creationist’s version of this?

Mark L

Yes, the rot of creationism goes so far that people will ask if they are allowed to believe in this or that scientific theory. That’s…ridiculous. They really think that being a ‘secular scientist’ will mean that you get different results. Honestly

Forlow replied:

Mark, It depends upon which ‘layers’ you are referring to. We would agree with the basic construction of the layers of the earth (inner, outer, mantle, crust), while still keeping in mind that some of the information even in this is still theoretical as scientists have only been able to drill down a fraction of the crust. The disagreement would be as to whether the construction of these layers were Designed or did they spin down from a cosmic dust cloud billions of years ago. One good article to read is From Rocks to Brain, pg. 17 of the Septemeber 2011 Acts and Facts issue.

My response to that at the time was:

In short: “Darwinism is a religion.” Another one for the Bingo page.

Sherwin attempts to sow doubt in every subject that he touches – remember, just because we don’t know something now doesn’t mean we never will. And creationists really do need to brush up on the literary techniques – they know ‘biblical allusion’ almost too well, but they really don’t get metaphors.

Should that be amended to ‘Darwinism is a Conspiracy’?

That article doesn’t answer the question – again, it’s Sherwin sowing doubt everywhere he can. And we have in Forlow’s response a bit of the creationist ‘you need eyewitness evidence’ idea of science: So what if we have only been able to drill down a small way into the crust? We can make measurements either way. And still nobody has said why the creationists even could disagree with what ‘secular science’ has produced here.

Cass Collins asks:

It’s a little off-subject but I have always wondered how evolutionists answer the question of why, if it supposedly took the Colorado river millions of years to form the Grand Canyon, we don’t have thousands of “Grand Canyons” all over the place.

Because the ground in those parts is uplifting, so the river goes deeper. That doesn’t happen everywhere, you know.

David Glaze says:

The lifting and sinking of the continents on the grand scale is due to the tetonic plate movments. But surely during a earthquake or valcanio there can be a lifting or sinking of land mass. Also no one mentioned the breaking up of the contenents is the day of Peleg. No that must have been a great event to have lived through.

Mr Glaze may wish to read this.

Next up was The Effect Problem:

The most certain and universal of all scientific principles is that of causality, or the law of cause and effect.  The implications of this principle have been fought vigorously in the theological and philosophical disciplines, but there is no question of its universal acceptance in the world of experimental science, as well as in ordinary experience.

Read more about The Effect Problem.

As we’ve already gone over, the ‘law of cause and effect’ is not a thing.

The K-5 activities read as follows:

Background ReadingEarthquake

1)      Research a career as a geophysicist. Some of the divisions include: seismologist, marine geophysicists, exploration geophysicists, petroleum geophysicists, mining geophysicists, environmental geophysicists, atmospheric physicist, gravity geophysicist, magnetic geophysicist, electromagnetic geophysicist, and electrical geophysicist. Present your findings to the class.

2)      Build your own seismograph using products found around the house!

3)      Watch this video about earthquakes. Be aware, this is a secular site.

4)      Monitor earthquakes regionally and globally. Plot them on a map.

What has she got against PBS?

The only comment is from a person asking for a picture of seismograph activity.

Then come the 6-12 ones:

Background ReadingEarthquake

1)      Use the Earthquake Slip Experiment to help your students determine whether the time of the next earthquake or the amount of slip in the next earthquake can be predicted.

I’m not entirely sure how that helps.

2)      Using the recent earthquakes in the Northeast portion of the US (8/2011), in Japan (3/2011), in Haiti (2/2010), in Iran (12/2003), in Seattle (2/2001), and in Turkey (8/1999), have students research to answer the following questions:

  • What was the magnitude of this earthquake?
  • Why was this earthquake so devastating?
  • Which earthquake zone was involved?
  • What are the names of the tectonic plates that intersect in the earthquake area?y
  • How far away was the earthquake felt?
  • Did the earthquake trigger any other disasters?

That’s an odd list. Where’s Christchurch? Or the Boxing Day Quake/Tsunami?

3)      Explore real-time earthquakes. Discover by fault or map the areas that have experienced the highest levels of recent activity. Discuss if there are other factors which may have contributed to the recent activity.

Interestingly, their world maps seem to exclude NZ quakes. They’ve probably been inundated. See here for what you’re missing.

4)      Have students prepare an Earthquake Emergency Plan for their own town. Include information on the impact of an earthquake in their town, an analysis of the kind of buildings that may be in danger during an earthquake, a plan for how and where to provide shelter and food for those displaced during an earthquake, and a warning system for the town citizens in the event of an earthquake.

Here, of course, we hope the (city/regional) Council have made a good enough plan for us, and concentrate on individual ‘quake plans.

No comments here. The next is Ask Dr Rhonda: Dinosaurs and the Bible. It’s fairly predictable, including the quote mine (without the quote):

No other creature, alive or extinct, was as large as behemoth and had a tail that was like a long, straight tree.

The tail wasn’t like a cedar tree, it apparently moved it ‘like a cedar tree.’

Some comments:

Did God create all the oil and gas we are using today or was it created by the flood?


Hi Ron,

There are several theories about that, one stating that oil and gas are biofossils, similar to coal. Within a creationist framework they would then be results of aggregating vegetation in between sedimentary layers, where the pressure of subsequent layers and heat would help turn that vegetational matter into coal, oil and gas.

Another interesting theory I have found was that oil and gas, are not biofossils, but have a abiotic origin (as proposed by Russian and Ukranian geologists). The debate surrounding this theory seems similar to that surrounding creationism at large, in that the basic tenet ‘oil is formed out of biological materials’ is accepted without question and proof, often on the contrary.

Research ‘abiotic origin of petroleum’ if you are interested, and draw your own conclusions.

Start here, I would say.

Finally, the DSs:

Classroom Starters:
Does the earth open up during an earthquake?

For the older student: Are there certain months of the year that are more seismically active than others? If so, which ones?

Not so far as I am aware.

Dinner Table Starters:
What should you do during an earthquake? How can we help others who have survived an earthquake?

Get out of the kitchen and head to the bedrooms, in my case – I don’t want to fall though the floor.

For the older student: Some people believe that earthquakes are happening more frequently than in the past. Would an increase in the number of earthquakes mean Jesus is coming back soon? Why or why not?

That’s the kind of lunacy you usually only see from Andy Schlafly. Here, btw, is an old DpSU from Brian called More Earthquake Data Does Not Mean More Earthquakes. “Young-Earth creationists actually can do real science reporting“.

And that’s a good place to end it, at the end.

*A class we may hear about again, as it happens.


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