alanf@tekig6.PEN.TEK.COM (Alan M Feuerbacher) This past weekend, February 2527, 1993, an I
alanf@tekig6.PEN.TEK.COM (Alan M Feuerbacher)
This past weekend, February 25-27, 1993, an International Creation
Conference was held in Beaverton, Oregon. I went to some of the
main sessions on Saturday to see for myself what young-earth
creationists had to say for themselves. The speakers included some
fairly well-known creationists:
I was only able to catch four lectures, but obtained tapes of others.
I was able to pose one question to a panel made up of the above
speakers in front of a large audience. The audience contained some
skeptics as well as believers. After some of the lectures I was able
to pose questions directly to the speaker, and after the Saturday
afternoon session was over I posed some questions to Gary Parker
directly, in a small group.
This material should be of some interest to t.o regulars. It does
not generally represent my own views, but it should provide grist
for the FAQ mill. The young-earth creationists seem to be changing
their tune on many things, and at this conference they presented
some new ideas that also appeared in last week's TV program on CBS
about the search for Noah's Ark.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Friday night Ian Taylor spoke about "The Genesis Flood." The
following is from a tape, as I didn't hear the lecture -- just a few
highlights I'm not familiar with. Taylor claimed that Niagara falls
has been retreating about 6 feet per year since the 1840s. I thought
the accepted figure was around 3 feet a year. This, he said, is
consistent with the Falls starting the erosion of its gorge some 6000
years ago. Taylor said that the `White Cliffs of Dover' deposit
actually extends from Ireland through England, France, Germany, India,
Sumatra and into Australia. This is incontrovertible evidence for a
worldwide flood, he said. He said the usual things about the Grand
Canyon, but never said a word about the tremendous amount of evidence
showing that the sediments were laid down over a long period of time.
Taylor said that in 1988 a French Catholic scientist by the name of
Gibetheau [sp?] published a paper in a scientific journal and gave a
lecture in Paris, about his experiments in flood geology. He took
sedimentary rocks from somewhere in France, ground them down to their
original grain size, colored them, and put them in a flume where they
dropped out of the water flow in the same order they were found in
the geologic column. This is supposed to be proof that the geologic
column could have formed like flood geologists have always said.
Taylor said that this was the first experimental confirmation of the
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
On Saturday Ian Taylor spoke on "The Ice Age." Most creationists used
to claim that ice ages never occurred, but that all the data scientists
now interpret as evidence for an Ice Age is really for Noah's Flood.
Apparently the ICR is now saying there was one, and only one, ice age.
This was a surprise to me.
Taylor posed the question: If an ice age occurred, where should it be
placed -- before or after Noah's Flood? He then lectured about a new
theory an ICR member, Michael Oard, recently came up with to answer
the question. The theory goes like this:
At the beginning of Noah's Flood, the water vapor canopy above the
earth collapsed and hot water from the fountains of the great deep
burst upon the land. Ocean hot springs today are remnants of these
subterranean waters. The hot water raised the temperature of the
oceans by 2 or 3 degrees (F or C was not specified). This extra
warmth caused increased evaporation right after the Flood. Volcanic
action during and immediately after the Flood caused a general
cooling, similar to what happened around 1815 at Mount Tambolo [Tambora]
in Sumatra. The two effects combined to give heavy winter snow and
little summer melting, so that after two or three hundred years the
glaciation reached a maximum. Glaciers have been melting worldwide
ever since, and today's glaciers are remnants of that ice age.
Striations on rock can imply either glacial or water action, and so
cannot be assigned to be from either cause. There is so much bogus
stuff here I can't even begin to comment.
Taylor talked a bit about the astronomical theory of the ice ages --
the orbital cycles and such of the Milankovitch theory, such as the
100,000 year variation in the eccentricity of the earth's orbit, the
variation of the tilt of the earth's axis and the precession of the
equinoxes. He claimed that physicists say temperatures could not
have been affected by such minor variations in cycles, but he
gave no references.
Taylor argued against there being many ice ages, claiming there is
no evidence whatsoever for the astronomical theory -- that it is
impossible that the earth's cyclicly receiving less solar energy
could result in cyclical ice ages. Again he offered no evidence
other than the argument from incredulity. Later I pointed out to him
that ocean bottom sediment cores had indeed provided evidence -- see
below. Taylor said that oxygen isotope analysis had been done on
"ice cores" but he thought that we don't need multiple ice ages to
explain it. Again, he offered no evidence.
Taylor said that the Flood caused the earth's axial tilt to wobble,
resulting in the precession of the equinoxes. This wobble has been
damping out over time, causing the tilt to decrease. He neglected
to point out that these phenomena are the result of the physics of
rotating bodies, but this, of course, was lost on the audience.
Taylor next presented the evidence supporting *one* ice age, from
Michael Oard's work:
One ice age is difficult meteorologically since the unique
conditions for an ice age could only have happened after a
universal flood . "We went all through that," he said.
Bedrock is only slightly eroded in interior areas. One would
expect much more erosion if there were multiple ice ages.
There exist driftless areas within the periphery of the ice front.
How could such exist after multiple ice ages?
There was little change in flora and fauna from before to after
the ice age.
Fossils are rare in glaciated areas. One would expect many more
than are actually found.
Most extinctions occurred after the last ice age.
Most till is from the last ice age but one would expect to find
very deep till everywhere -- hundreds of feet -- if there were
multiple ice ages.
There should be much more loess than is actually found.
Even with my limited knowledge I could off most of these arguments.
Taylor then presented a variety of other arguments for the Flood and
against multiple ice ages. Geologists *want* the ice over Canada to
have been several miles thick so they can claim the land is rebounding
due to release from the great weight. They need this to explain such
things as finding whale fossils in the Lake Champlain region of New
York. [Apparently these folks haven't read, or they choose to ignore,
findings such as are summarized in E. C. Pielou's _After the Ice Age
- The Return of Life to Glaciated North America_, Univ. of Chicago
Press, 1991]. Geologists can't account for some `holes' in
supposedly glaciated regions in Canada that show no evidence of ever
having been under ice. "Great masses of coral are found under the
ice of the North Pole," Taylor said. Submarines find great areas of
coral in the Arctic.
Taylor said that muskox, hippos, camels, mammoths, rhinos, cave
lions, reindeer and many other mixed warm and cold type fauna lived
all together in the far north, according to stratigraphic evidence.
He quoted A. K. Grayson about finding such fauna in the valley of the
Thames in England, but at this point he seemed to be mixing up
information about the far north with information about England.
Taylor described the finding in 1986 of a frozen forest on Axel
Heiberg Island, near Ellesmere. There were 18-inch diameter
metasequoia trees broken off at the base, whose trunks were underlain
by the branches with leaves still attached, underlain by the remains
of lions, camels, alligators, hippos, etc. Metasequoias are found
only in China today. Professor James Basinger examined this stuff
in 1986. Mammoths may have survived until two or three hundred
years ago. Sometime within the past 15 years mammoth remains were
discovered on the East Coast of the U.S., from which biologists are
now trying to clone ancient bacteria recovered from the gut.
Taylor said that the Arctic ice cap was formed some two or three
hundred years after the Flood, when the great northern ice sheets
began to melt and the runoff of fresh water into the Arctic Ocean
raised its freezing point enough for it to freeze solid for most of the
year. Once formed, the albedo effect keeps it in place. The frozen
mammoths of Siberia can't be accounted to the Flood. Taylor does not
accept the scenario presented by many creationists in the past, based
on Henry Howorth's 19th century book on frozen mammoths. He rejects
the theories of Ivan T. Sanderson, of "quick-frozen" mammoth fame,
who wrote the 1960 _Saturday Evening Post_ article "Riddle of the
Frozen Giants" and spawned a whole raft of pseudoscience. He has
no idea how the 1901 Berezovka and 1977 Dima mammoths were killed
and preserved, except that they didn't die in the Flood. Of course,
there have actually been several dozen large mammals found frozen,
but most were in far worse condition than these two or were lost.
After the lecture I pointed out to Taylor that in 1979 there was
found "Blue Babe," a bison frozen in Beringia, which has been
extensively analyzed (e.g., by R. Dale Guthrie in _Frozen Fauna of
the Mammoth Steppe_, 1990). He acknowledged the find but refused to
say that mammoths might have been frozen in the same way. I suspect
he didn't want to talk about the fact that the bison had been mostly
eaten before freezing, and that it had been buried by entirely
natural processes. I also found him rather evasive on several
topics I later asked him about.
Taylor commented that he was non-committal on continental drift
because "all the evidence isn't in yet," although other speakers such
as Donald Chittick and Gary Parker later said that the whole theory
of plate tectonics has been proven wrong. Details will be in
forthcoming ICR publications.
At the end of the Saturday afternoon session a "Round Table Discussion"
was held, in which a panel of five ICR people answered questions from
the audience. The panel included the four mentioned at the beginning
of this post. All the sessions were recorded and I purchased tapes of
some. I posed a question about Milankovitch cycles:
Earlier today, Dr. Taylor, you had spoken about ice ages and you
mentioned the earth's orbital cycles as being a factor involved in
that -- they're also known as the Milankovitch cycles. There are
variations on the order of 100,000 years, 40,000 and 20,000 years
or so. Recently, geologists have become pretty well convinced that
there were many ice ages that had components of variation at those
precise intervals, because they've dug up ocean bottom sediment
cores, analyzed the oxygen 18 to 16 isotope ratios, and done
Fourier, or spectral analysis on that, and found that the isotope
ratios varied at exactly the same rate as the orbital cycles.
That's a very, very incredible correspondence between the
theoretical physics and actual experimental evidence, so how does
that jibe with what you've said earlier today about there being a
single ice age only a few thousand years ago as opposed to many ice
ages over a period of millions of years?
Dr. Taylor responded that the Milankovitch theory is only one of many
theories that have been proposed. Most have already been abandoned,
and he thinks this one will be too. He admitted that the ocean
bottom cores and the physics of orbiting bodies support one another,
but he said that he personally found it difficult to believe that
there was more than one ice age, again invoking the argument from
incredulity. He said:
That is difficult enough, meteorologically, just on one occasion,
but for that same thing to happen over and over and over, cyclicly,
I think it's just a bit beyond my level of faith to accept, at any
rate, so this is the problem with it, I think. Having one ice age
is difficult enough. The conditions are so specific that it's
difficult enough. Having more than one ice age, it's virtually
impossible. I think this is what I was saying. The mere fact that
there's a coincidence in those levels of oxygen analysis, I think
we should be a bit open for it, yet. There may be other
explanations for that. I'm not going to speculate here about
that at all, because I really don't know.
Then Gary Parker seemed to confuse the difference between ocean
bottom sediment cores and ice cores, and said:
Let me just add a point that, I wish I could give you the details
right now, but Dr. Larry Vardiman [sp?] at ICR has just finished
a technical monograph re-evaluating the ice core data and has
happened so many times in the past, evolutionists come up with
data that seems to fit the theory and it turns out the data is
incorrect, and that's the way it looks from Dr. Vardiman's analysis
looking at the O16 - O18 ratios, and so on, ice core [sic]. He's
got a little _Impact_ article out on that that you can get now, and
there's a full technical monograph that I think is being released
right about now, this month or next month. It'll have all the
references and things like that on it, and it should be very, very
Dr. Taylor then said that satellite triangulation measurements of
continental drift rates were originally published that showed some
continents were drifting apart at two centimeters per year, but the
original data shows that in some places they are coming together by
two or three centimeters per year, so there is a selection of data
taking place to support the theory. He suggested that Dr. Vardiman's
analysis shows similarly that the original data is "not really as
good as they pretend it to be," and that O18 - O16 isotope data
supporting the orbital theory is a case in point.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Donald Chittick lectured on "Dinosaurs and the Bible." He put forth
some wild claims. The "Behemoth" of Job was actually Apatosaurus or
something like it. Due to its large digestive system [Ted Holden,
take note] it burped huge quantities of methane, which certain organs
in the head or throat fired up from time to time, producing the
legend of the fire-breathing dragon. The pyrotechnic organs might
have been special teeth that clacked together to make sparks, or a
sparking organ based on something like that in electric eels, or most
likely, an organ that made a substance that bursts into flame on
contact with air, such as arsine gas (I'm not making this up --
Chittick really said this). He said that dinosaurs are probably still
living. This has been proven by the find by Japanese fishermen of a
plesiosaurus carcass somewhere in the Pacific, which they don't want
to release, and by an African legend of an "elephant lizard" -- Mokele
Mbembe. Someone recently even wrote a book about his search for
Chittick's presentation was by far the most way out of the day, IMHO.
He generally seemed to spout the most pseudo-scientific babble of the
lot, while Kouznetsov was the most long-winded. Taylor seemed the
most knowledgeable, while Parker was the smoothest speaker.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Gary Parker spoke on "Dry Bones and Other Fossils." To my surprise
he mentioned Australian fossil stromatolites. I had thought that
young-earth creationists avoided this topic, claiming that
stromatolites were really rock formations, and not fossils.
In any case, he said that the existence of fossil and living
stromatolites in Australia was evidence against evolution. Parker
said that the "dawn horse" (Hyracotherium or Eohippus) was really
the Hyrax, an animal living today. He also said that Archaeopteryx
was most definitely a bird, since it had feathers.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ian Taylor spoke on "Archaeopteryx -- The Ultimate Hoax." He
basically rehashed the Fred Hoyle, Chandra Wickramasinghe, et al,
argument that the feathers on Archaeopteryx fossils were faked by
their discoverer in the 19th century to fool museums into paying huge
sums of money to acquire the fossils. He went into some detail about
how early drawings and photos of the Berlin specimen showed the curve
of the main flight feathers as heading toward the hand bones of the
wing, whereas later photos show them as heading toward the upper wing
bone. Taylor made much of this as proof that the fossils have been
doctored, probably by the Museum. His main point was that the skeleton
of Archaeopteryx was so similar to that of the dinosaur Compsognathus
that they were probably one and the same creature.
After Taylor's lecture I asked him how it was that on the one hand
he could claim Archaeopteryx was a fake, because its skeleton was so
similar to that of a contemporary dinosaur, and on the other hand his
associates such as Gary Parker could claim that Archaeopteryx was
not similar to dinosaurs because it had feathers and was therefore a
bird. He never really answered the question, even though I put it to
him three times. I felt like Ted Koppel trying to pin down a slippery
politician. I couldn't tell whether he honestly didn't understand
the problem or was just avoiding my question.
During the "Round Table Discussion" someone asked whether it would be
possible to see if the Archaeopteryx fossils that may have been faked
could be analyzed further to see whether the feathered areas were
faked or not. Ian Taylor said that one Dr. Speckner [sp?] had
convinced the British Museum to allow him to take microsamples of
limestone from inside and outside the feathered areas and do
spectrographic analysis on them. This was done at the Weisman [sp?]
Institute in Israel, where Speckner worked and, Taylor said,
he found conclusive evidence.... [that] inside the wing area the
material was amorphous and it contained the organics -- weren't
quite sure what the organics were, but it was probably the gum
arabic, the rubber stuff that was used in those days [late 1800s].
Outside the wing area, in the matrix area, it was crystalline --
crystalline limestone -- no sign of any organics whatsoever. So
that would seem to confirm the idea, or the suspicion, that it was
indeed a hoax. Now, to be truthful, he said we really need two
more specimens to confirm the results of the first two, but at that
point the British Museum said, no more, the thing's going back in
the vault, and that was the end of it.
Another questioner asked if anything in the fossil record has been
found showing that ancient peoples had an advanced technology. This
theme had been mentioned several times in various lectures. Taylor
said that a Professor Roland Harrison, an Old Testament scholar,
claimed that the Great Pyramid of Cheops was pre-flood, since all the
other pyramids are poor imitations of it. Taylor said he didn't
endorse this view, but there it is anyway. Taylor knew of nothing
in the fossil record the questioner had asked about. The meeting
coordinator then talked about the "London hammer," apparently a
miner's hammer found in London, Texas in 1930 in 150 million year
old rock strata, and implied it was pre-flood.
One questioner asked if dinosaur and human remains had ever been
found in the same deposits. Chittick and others said that such had
been found in South Carolina phosphate deposits, and also somewhere
in South Africa. It looks like Paluxy River has bit the dust.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
After the main lecture I approached Gary Parker and asked him about
his alleged misquotation, in a 1980 _Impact_ article, of a statement
Richard Lewontin made in a 1978 _Scientific American_ article on
"Adaptation." He said that he didn't really misquote Lewontin -- at
least that that was not his intention when he wrote the _Impact_
article. Lewontin subsequently complained in print, several
times, about this.
I asked Parker what he thought about last week's program about
Noah's Ark on CBS television. He said he hadn't seen it. I asked
what the relationship of the ICR was to that program, and he said
essentially that they were independent. I asked him about a couple
of anomalies in the CBS program. It had claimed that Noah's Flood
was about 9000 feet deep, which Parker agreed with. I pointed out
that this implied that all mountains, including Ararat, must have
been less than 9000 feet high, while the Ark had been claimed to
have been at around 12-13,000 feet on Mount Ararat. He had no answer
for that, except that there were many different people responsible
for the program's content. Then I pointed out that the Flood geology
scenario says that land and ocean bottoms must have been at equal
depths during the Flood, which he agreed to, but that this created
a problem with the Hawaiian Island - Emperor Seamount chain -- in
particular the big island of Hawaii, which is 30,000 feet high from
the base and would therefore stick 21,000 feet above the Flood water.
We concluded from this that the Hawaiian chain must have formed after
Noah's Flood. I then asked him if he really thought it possible that
Hawaii formed after the Flood, seeing as how the rest of the islands
are deeply eroded and become more so the farther west you go, and in
fact dive under the surface to become seamounts. He saw no problem
in any of this, saying that it was quite possible for large mountains
like Hawaii to form in well under 4000 years.
I asked Parker about his view of plate tectonics. He said that the
theory is completely wrong. Continental drift does not occur today
and did not happen as geologists claim. *Some* long-baseline
interferometer measurements show that continents are drifting apart,
but others, which geologists have suppressed, show the opposite.
What really happened is that continents were pushed rapidly apart
during the Flood, just like the CBS program showed. The information
is being prepared right now and will be published very soon. Someone
else asked him if he really believed that scientists were engaged in
some sort of conspiracy to conceal the truth from people about
geology, etc., and he most emphatically said that was the case.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
All in all I was impressed by how much pseudo-science could be
presented in so short a time. My favorite of the day was Chittick's
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank