Dating the Grand Canyon

Stratigraphy of the Grand CanyonAs easily accessible American landmarks, Mt St. Helens and the Grand Canyon feature disproportionately in young Earth creationist publications. For example Brian Thomas’ Monday article was called Age of Grand Canyon Remains a Mystery.

It is one thing to calculate the age of a layer of rock – this is a textbook application of radiometric dating – but quite another to date a canyon, say, that has cut through said rock at an unknown point later on. Less direct methods of dating must be used, and there is therefore a greater potential for disagreement (at least between scientist’s interpretations of the results). The more generally accepted date for the age of this particular canyon is 5-6 million years, but a recent paper in Science offers evidence in favour of the alternative view, that it was carved almost completely by around 70 million years before the present. Both dates are much more than 6000 years, but that doesn’t faze Mr Thomas: Continue reading

A Great Volume of Lumber

The Building of Noah's ArkJohn D. Morris, President of the Institute for Creation Research, has a new book – called The Global Flood. I’m not entirely sure to what extent this book is supposed to be a successor to Whitcomb and (Henry) Morris’ 1961 tome with a similar name (The Genesis Flood), but I don’t get the impression that this was the intent. That’s not important, however. More relevant is that John Morris’ usual Acts & Facts column has been replaced this month by an excerpt “adapted” from the book, entitled An ‘Impossible’ Task?

Forced to pick the most implausible part of the Flood story, it is easiest to talk about the ark itself. The ark is supposed to have been a very large, wooden ship that was supposed to hold a very large amount of animals for about a year in what had to have been, factoring in your favourite hypothesis for how the flood itself worked, some extremely rough seas. For their part young Earth creationists have done their best to try to justify aspects of the account – whole books have been written about the topic. The excerpt here is one example, and if it’s in any way representative of other attempts then the YECs are in a bad way indeed:

By any estimation, the building of Noah’s Ark was a monumental task. Assuming an 18″ cubit, the Ark was 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. Could Noah and his sons have accomplished it? By making reasonable assumptions, we can perhaps determine whether the task was too great.

Morris’ “reasonable assumptions” are, of course, of the “just make up a number and call it a conservative estimate” school of educated guesswork. Continue reading