‘equipping the church
on origins’

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News & Blog page 7

Creation biologists and geologists meet in Cleveland, Georgia

August 9, 2010

Paul Garner delivering his talk about Permian cross-bedded sandstones.

Todd Wood speaking about Australopithecus sediba.
Photos courtesy of Todd Wood.

The annual joint meeting of the Creation Biology Study Group (BSG) and the Creation Geology Society (CGS) took place at Truett-McConnell College, Cleveland, Georgia, on 29 and 30 July 2010. Twenty two talks were packed into two days. The biology abstracts from this year’s conference can be found on the BSG website (see Occasional Paper 17) and the geology abstracts will shortly be available on the Cedarville University website. Here are some brief summaries of the presentations.

Biology talks:

I. Demme presented an intriguing study of Genesis 2:5, arguing that the Hebrew text refers to the absence of thorny plants and cultivated crops in the pre-Fall world.

K. P. Wise expounded the biblical concept of man’s ‘dominion’, suggesting a plethora of practical implications for bioethics and environmentalism.

J. Bartlett offered some thoughts on how creationists can develop an approach to biological causation that goes beyond the merely physical.

G. Wilson cautioned against the premature ‘lumping’ of species into holobaramins in the absence of clear synapomorphies uniting them.

R. W. Sanders presented a statistical analysis suggesting that the Verbena family is a holobaramin.

T. C. Wood explained that new baraminological studies using cranial and postcranial characters did not falsify his original hypothesis that Australopithecus sediba was a member of the human holobaramin.

T. C. Wood also argued from species and genus counts that that there has been a lack of speciation in most terrestrial mammal families, but spectacular speciation in a few, concluding that any theory of speciation must account for this fact.

J. Bartlett suggested a quantitative approach to discriminating between genetic changes that are part of an organism’s overall design and those that are a result of the curse.

J. W. Francis described his experiences using halobacteria in the undergraduate research setting, and suggested that they might provide a good model for investigating the origin of natural evil.

Geology talks:

A. A. Snelling reported radiocarbon dates of ~30-50 ka from the Permian coals of the Sydney Basin, Australia, consistent with dates obtained from US coal beds of various conventional ages.

S. A. Austin proposed that submarine liquefied sediment gravity currents, such as the one that formed the Whitmore Nautiloid Bed within the Redwall Limestone, were a major mechanism for the transport and deposition of sediments during the Flood.

D. D. Stansbury complemented Steven Austin’s talk by discussing field evidence for flow transformation within the Whitmore Nautiloid Bed as it is traced into southern Nevada.

A. Hutchison described some potential mechanisms for rapidly precipitating salts in near-critical and supercritical submarine environments, which may provide alternatives to the conventional ‘evaporite’ hypothesis.

A. A. Snelling documented the occurrence of polonium radiohalos in multiple, sequentially intruded phases of the Bathurst Batholith, New South Wales, Australia, suggesting that the entire complex was intruded and cooled within days to weeks.

M. J. Oard suggested that dinosaur tracks and eggs could be explained by animals seeking refuge on surfaces briefly exposed by short-lived sea level oscillations early in the Flood.

M. R. Ross critically reviewed a number of materials available for teaching young age geology in the classroom, and outlined a coordinated plan for the development of more suitable resources.

S. Gollmer presented results from climate modelling efforts which were aimed at better understanding the rapid build up of ice sheets after the global Flood.

S. Cheung explained that the conventional eolian interpretation of the Coconino Sandstone is being challenged by the persistent presence of dolomite at multiple localities in central and northern Arizona.

J. H. Whitmore argued that clay content is a critical factor in the formation of desiccation cracks, and that the sand-filled cracks in the Hermit Formation (below the Coconino Sandstone) cannot be the result of desiccation because the Hermit does not contain enough clay-sized material.

J. H. Whitmore presented data on grain size sorting from >500 modern windblown sand samples. Fine to very fine modern dune sands tend to be well sorted and this feature ought to be observed in ancient eolian sands too.

J. H. Whitmore described preliminary data on grain size sorting and rounding in the Coconino Sandstone based on almost 60 thin sections from eight locations. The sand grains in the Coconino tend to be moderately to poorly sorted and subangular to subrounded.

P. Garner summarised many features of the Coconino Sandstone that are difficult to reconcile with an eolian origin, and suggested that these are typical of Permian cross-bedded sandstones generally. He proposed that these units were formed by rapidly migrating subaqueous sand waves during the Flood.

Next year’s conference – under the title Origins 2011 – will be held in Rapid City, South Dakota, on 27–30 July. It will be a special event to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of The Genesis Flood. However, there will probably be at least one field trip and some special meetings for the general public as well, so the whole thing may run from 26–31 July. Mark your diaries now!

Research report: Summer fieldwork for the Coconino Sandstone project

Paul Garner (right) and John Whitmore (left) recording strike and dip measurements.

In July, Paul Garner was in the USA for another season of fieldwork with his colleagues, Dr John Whitmore (Cedarville University) and Ray Strom (Calgary Rock and Materials). For the last four years the team has been studying the Coconino Sandstone of central and northern Arizona, a rock unit that most geologists think was deposited slowly in an ancient desert. However, Paul and his colleagues think that it was laid down rapidly in an underwater environment, consistent with the Genesis Flood.

The contact between the Coconino Sandstone (above) and the Hermit Formation (below) in Buckskin Gulch.

During their latest trip, the team studied the Coconino Sandstone at Buckskin Gulch in southern Utah, around Holbrook, Sedona and Chino Wash in Arizona, and along the Hermit Trail and the New Hance Trail in Grand Canyon. For the last three days of their fieldwork, they were joined by Dr Leonard Brand (Loma Linda University) and two students studying with him over the summer. Dr Brand is well known for his field and laboratory studies (e.g. Brand 1979) suggesting that the fossil trackways in the Coconino were made by animals moving around underwater.

The team also had the opportunity to sample modern windblown sand dunes in Wyoming for comparison with the Coconino, as well as a number of other putatively ‘windblown’ sandstones in the geological record. These included the Weber Sandstone (Pennsylvanian-Permian), the Cedar Mesa Sandstone (Permian), the White Rim Sandstone (Permian) and the Navajo Sandstone (Jurassic).

The rattlesnake encountered in Capitol Reef National Park.

The team had a close encounter with a rattlesnake in Capitol Reef National Park and were caught in a thunderstorm while hiking in Grand Canyon. However, they managed to complete their field studies without mishap. Many samples were collected and field measurements taken, adding significantly to the growing evidence that the Coconino Sandstone – and by extension other similar ‘windblown’ sandstones – was laid down rapidly underwater and not in an ancient desert.

Field and conference season blog

July 12, 2010

Paul Garner is currently in the USA for another season of fieldwork on the Coconino Sandstone project, taking in the Coconino and other Permian sandstones in Arizona and Utah, and modern windblown sand dunes in Wyoming. After that, he’ll be attending the Creation Biology Study Group/Creation Geology Society annual conference at Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland, Georgia. While he is away he will be blogging about his trip and uploading a few photographs at The New Creationism. The first three entries can be read here, here and here.

Horizons reviews The New Creationism

May 21, 2010

Paul Garner’s book, The New Creationism, has received another positive review in Horizons (No. 173, September/October 2009). Horizons is the magazine of Melbourne Hall Evangelical Free Church in Leicester. The reviewer is Tim Oldridge.

In my opinion this is a ‘must read’ for all Christians. The title might suggest that the book is about ‘the new heavens and the new earth’ referred to in the book of Revelation. But this is not the case. Paul Garner, in an easy-to-read style, presents a comprehensive, understandable overview of the origins issue. This he does by an up-to-date survey of current scientific thinking that supports the biblical account of the origin of our universe. He systematically works through the claimed major scientific evidences that are today arrayed against those Christians who desire to be faithful to God’s Word. He starts with an unwavering commitment to the plain reading of the opening chapters of Genesis, and presents his detailed case in support of the Bible-believing position against the backdrop of what those chapters clearly teach.

The chapter titles cover the key issues in the origins debate, and many of the questions most asked by Christians and non-Christians alike. The opening chapters deal with the creation of the sun, moon, and stars with a reminder of how well designed is our earthly home. The pivotal questions of time are next treated – the biblical case for literal creations [sic] days and 6,000 or so years for earth history are resoundingly established; the present-is-the-key-to-the-past philosophy is shown to be contrary to the evidence of catastrophic formation of sedimentary rock layers; the radioactive clocks in rocks have run fast and therefore cannot yield absolute ages of millions of years; and yet there is robust evidence that the solar system, the earth and mankind are young. Paul Garner then goes on to discuss the origin of life, diversity by design, similarities and relationships, defects and degeneration, and embryonic recapitulation and vestigial organs. The global Flood catastrophe is defended biblically. The book then goes on to describe how the fossil record is explained by the Flood. Furthermore only the Flood can explain the single ice age that occurred as an immediate consequence of it.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The scientific facts concerning the macrocosm and the microcosm are both astounding and ‘mind blowing’. For instance the temperature at the core of a star is sixteen million degrees Kelvin (room temperature is approximately 300 degrees Kelvin). Stars like our sun ‘burn’ their nuclear fuel at a staggering rate, transforming five million tons of mass into energy every second. Our sun is one of about 100 billion stars that make up our galaxy, the Milky Way. Our galaxy is one of about thirty galaxies in a cluster called the Local Group. This cluster is about ten million light years across. Astronomers use the word ‘local’ in a different way from its normal use! A large and famous cluster, containing many thousands of galaxies of different types, is the Virgo Cluster, about forty million light years away…and so on. Truly ‘mind blowing’!

In one sense, as Christians, we do not need any other book than the Bible to read of how the world was created. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God (Hebrews 11:3). But ‘The New Creationism’ is a fascinating, useful up-to-date text book which deals with the complexities and origins of our world and gives strong and robust answers to those people who hold to evolutionary processes and ‘Big Bang’ theories. I put the book down marvelling at the wonders, beauties, and diversity of creation and worshipping our great creator God who is blessed for ever (Romans 1:25).

‘O LORD, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.’ Psalm 104:24

‘Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.’ Revelation 4:11

The Bible League Quarterly reviews The New Creationism

April 9, 2010

The latest edition of the Bible League Quarterly (April-June 2010, Issue 441, pp.397-398) carries a warmly positive review of Paul Garner’s book, The New Creationism. The reviewers are Richard and Ruth Ward. The Bible League has kindly given us permission to post their review here. You can find out more about the Bible League, its publications and other resources here.

Bible-believing Christians accept, by faith, the early chapters of Genesis as a true record of the events of creation and of a universal Flood destroying all but eight of mankind for sin. But how do we reconcile this with the findings of modern science, and have we answers to give to those who question our faith? Paul Garner addresses these issues simply, firmly believing the literal account in the Bible, to show that the conflict is not with modern discoveries but with their interpretation by those with an evolutionary mind-set.

Many books have been written to highlight the problems of evolutionary theories. The aim of this book is more positive: it is “to show that rigorous scientific ideas about the past can be built upon the historical foundation provided in the Bible.” Paul Garner does this successfully by summarising the work of modern-day scholars based on biblical foundations. The style of the writing is winsome (though conventional theories are criticised where required); it flows easily, shows the excitement of the author and avoids hyperbole.

There are no scientific blunders or misrepresentations of the opposing theories, so this book could be given to anyone studying science or geography without fear of embarrassment. Relevant GCSE and A Level examination questions could be well answered using the information in this book and the very useful glossary of scientific terms.

The topics covered include: cosmology (Big Bang and origin of stars), the solar system, the changing ideas of the age of the Earth since 1700, geology (the author’s forte) and radiometric dating, the origin of life, the effects of the Curse, the global Flood, the ice age, humans and apes.

The author includes and explains, with the aid of clear simple diagrams, enough science to show the logic of his arguments. There are extensive end-notes for each chapter, both to show the sources used and, together with the bibliography and list of websites, to direct the enquiring mind to more depth and detail.

Scripture quotations throughout are from the Authorised Version. We highly recommend this book.

Dr Todd Wood’s speaking tour

March 29, 2010

Report by Paul Garner

In March 2010, BCM hosted a speaking tour by Dr Todd Wood of the Center for Origins Research, Bryan College, Dayton, Tennessee. Public meetings were held in Salford, Coventry, Cambridge and Elsenham. Three of the meetings were devoted to the theme of “Science and the Supernatural” while a fourth considered “The Challenge of Darwin”.

Dr Todd Wood speaking in Coventry.

In “Science and the Supernatural”, Todd confronted the popular argument that creationism is not scientific because it invokes supernatural explanations. He demonstrated that science can and does evaluate supernatural claims, using examples from the peer-reviewed literature. His examples included studies of the effectiveness of intercessory prayer and the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin. Appropriate scientific studies of the supernatural concern specific claims that are accessible to empirical investigation (e.g. the shroud is a first century burial cloth), they apply suitable tests (e.g. pollen analysis), and they draw limited conclusions (e.g. the shroud bears pollen consistent with or inconsistent with a Middle Eastern origin). In other words, science has the tools to evaluate any empirical claim regardless of its origin or motivation.

Todd pointed out that creationism likewise offers testable hypotheses that are amenable to empirical study, and this is in fact acknowledged by anti-creationists every time they offer scientific arguments against creationism. It would be more consistent for critics to argue that creationism is bad science rather than unscientific by definition – but that would open a door they would rather remained closed. If creationism is bad science that means it can be improved! Furthermore, the idea that “science” and “religion” should be kept entirely separate because they deal with non-overlapping compartments of reality was rejected on the grounds that Christianity claims that the supernatural can and does impact upon observational reality. This talk provoked some very interesting discussions, with a particularly lively question and answer session following the Cambridge meeting.

In Coventry the subject of Todd’s talk was “The Challenge of Darwin”. He began by drawing a distinction between high level explanations (e.g. descent with modification) and the low level theories that allow us to connect such high level explanations with the empirical world (e.g. Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection). High level explanations may be held for a variety of reasons – pragmatic, philosophical or religious – and are relatively immune to scientific evaluation. However, they help us to formulate low level theories which are very amenable to evaluation. The implications for the development of a creationist science of biology were outlined. In order to provide an alternative to the neo-darwinian synthesis, creationists need to connect the high level concept of “creation” to the empirical world by developing low level theories in five key areas: design, natural evil, speciation, systematics and biogeography.

The area in which most progress has been made so far is systematics. Baraminology has allowed new techniques to be developed and applied to identify the created kinds. Some work has also been done to explain biogeographic patterns, such as the proposal that after the Flood animals dispersed by rafting on vegetation mats. Creationist theories concerning speciation (i.e. how species change) and natural evil (i.e. the origin of predators, parasites, pathogens) are less well developed. In addition, there is a need for an overarching theory which explains the large scale patterns of biological similarity and discontinuity – in other words a theory of design in its broadest sense. Todd’s talk provided a helpful context for understanding creationist research in biology and was appreciated by all those who heard it.

We would like to thank the individuals and churches that kindly hosted these meetings, as well as our friends Stephen and Joan Bazlinton for their help in organising the tour. Todd’s own reflections on his visit can be found on his blog – here, here and here.

You may be interested to know that a DVD of Todd Wood’s talk on the Galápagos Islands, recorded during a previous visit to the UK in 2008, is now available from BCM. Galápagos Revisited: Creation and Evolution in the Galápagos Islands runs for about 57 minutes and is a semi-technical talk suitable for adults and older teens. Copies can be ordered for £8.50 (including p&p) from Biblical Creation Trust, PO Box 325, Ely CB7 5YH. Cheques should be made payable to “Biblical Creation Trust”.

Todd Wood’s speaking tour begins today

March 11, 2010

This is a reminder to visitors to our web site that Todd Wood’s speaking tour of England begins today. Hopefully by the time you read this, Todd will have arrived at Heathrow airport and be on his way up to Salford for the first meeting. In case you missed it, here’s his itinerary:

Thursday 11 March 2010, 8.00 pm,

“Science and the Supernatural”, Elmwood Church, Eccles Old Road, Salford, Manchester M6 8AG. Further information from Duncan Bottrill (0161 7892963; Church website).

Saturday 13 March 2010, 6.30 pm,

“The Challenge of Darwin”, Genesis Agendum Public Lecture, Lower Ford Street Baptist Church, Coventry CV1 5QJ. Further information from Jeff Lowe (0116 2707421; Genesis Agendum website).

Sunday 14 March 2010, 7.30 pm,

“Science and the Supernatural”, After-church meeting, Cambridge Presbyterian Church, meeting in Resurrection Lutheran Church, Westfield Lane (just off Huntingdon Road and opposite New Hall College), Cambridge. Further information from Rev. Ian Hamilton (01223 212370; Church website).

Tuesday 16 March 2010, 8.00 pm,

“Science and the Supernatural”, Elsenham Village Hall (Primary School), High Street, Elsenham, near Bishops Stortford CM22 6DD. Further information from Stephen and Joan Bazlinton (01371 856495).

More information on Todd’s subjects can be found here. All of the meetings are open to the public and anyone is very welcome to attend.

Permian perambulations

March 9, 2010

Research report by Paul Garner

Permian sandstone outcrops at Dawlish, Devon.

On Friday I arrived home after a week-long field trip around the UK with John Whitmore who was visiting from the States. We had a great time, and the weather was very kind to us – we had dry and mostly sunny conditions the whole week. We clocked up almost 1500 miles, and managed to collect Permian sandstone samples for the FAST (Flood-Activated Sedimentation and Tectonics) project near Dawlish, Kinver, Penrith, Durham and Doncaster. Our thin section studies of the Coconino Sandstone of northern and central Arizona and its correlates in neighbouring states are throwing up some very interesting data – see here and here – and so I’m looking forward to seeing how these equivalent units in the UK will turn out. For the background to our Coconino project see here, here and here. We also hiked out into the Loughor River in South Wales to see the intertidal bedforms (ripples, megaripples and sand waves) in the estuary mouth. We accomplished all that we planned to do, and more besides, so that’s great.

Hutton's unconformity at Siccar Point.

Also, during the field trip we had the opportunity to visit Siccar Point, a classic outcrop of the angular unconformity between Silurian greywackes and shales and the overlying Old Red Sandstone famously visited by Hutton, Playfair and Hall in 1788. For those that are interested, David Tyler of the Biblical Creation Society has written an excellent introduction to Hutton’s unconformity at Siccar Point and other localities from a creationist perspective. Bearing in mind the bad weather we’ve been experiencing recently, it was magnificent to have clear blue skies virtually all day. While we were in Scotland, John was even brave enough to try haggis for breakfast – although he passed on the black pudding! Then it was back down the A1 so that John could catch his flight home from Heathrow. All in all, a wonderful week.

The Banner of Truth reviews The New Creationism

February 12, 2010

Paul Garner’s The New Creationism has been reviewed in the latest edition of The Banner of Truth magazine (February 2010, pp.31-32). The reviewer is Jeremy Walker. The Banner of Truth‘s editor, Jonathan Watson, has kindly given permission for the review to be reproduced here. You can find out more about The Banner of Truth magazine, including subscription details, here.

This title will appeal to Christians interested in science, as well as others more broadly concerned about the nature and implications of the teaching of creation. The author deals with the issues of origins in a clear and pithy style, not avoiding the hard questions or fudging the answers, building a scientific model that will assist Christians whose doctrines of origins and practice of science are being attacked. The non-scientist (like the reviewer) will find this book fascinating and useful, not above the head of the untrained, though probably of greater value to those who understand the technical issues. For Garner, Genesis presents us with the facts of history, provides a framework for good science, and establishes a foundation for the gospel itself. Some details and emphases might doubtless be challenged, but the whole appears sound and helpful.

Todd Wood: March Speaking Tour Dates

January 22, 2010

Further to our announcement about Dr Todd Wood’s visit to the UK in March 2010, full details of his itinerary are now available on our diary page.

Todd will be speaking at venues in Salford (11 March), Coventry (13 March), Cambridge (14 March) and Elsenham (16 March). The meetings are open to the public and all are very welcome to attend.

At three of these meetings, Dr Wood will be speaking on Science and the Supernatural and will address the question of what it means to be both a scientist and a creationist. Modern scientists commonly claim that true science cannot consider supernatural causes, since they are outside the realm of observation. Dr Wood will review the reasons for this and propose a way to allow the supernatural realm to inform and enrich scientific research. This talk is suitable for all audiences.

At the meeting in Coventry, Dr Wood’s theme will be a somewhat more technical presentation entitled The Challenge of Darwin. Throughout Origin of Species, Charles Darwin makes the case that a wide variety of biological data is “inexplicable” on the view of creation. Twentieth century evolutionary biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky went further with his claim that “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” But Dr Wood will review and evaluate an emerging model of biological origins that explicitly denies the ancestry of all living things.

If you would like further details about any of these meetings, please contact the tour co-ordinators, Stephen and Joan Bazlinton (01371 856495).

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