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The Poverty of a Young Earth Viewpoint

10 July, 2009

When I was 12 years old, my father took me out of school for two days and we hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  As we passed the Temple Butte Limestone and the  Tonto formation (Muav Limestone, Bright Angel Shale and Tapeats Sandstone) we began taking samples of each layer, placing them in my almost empty backpack, and carrying them down to Phantom Ranch.  We sampled the Temple Butte (a nice exposure along the Kaibab Trail), the Tonto, the accessible Grand Canyon Group, the Vishnu Schist and the Zoroaster Granite.  We also sampled the dikes and sills within the metamorphosed pre-Cambrian formations.  By the time we got to the bottom, my pack weighed around 60 pounds.  Those rocks came out of the canyon by mule.  We repeated the process on the way up, sampling the Redwall Limestone, the Supai Group, the Hermit Shale, Coconino Sandstone, Toroweap Limestone and Kaibab Limestone.

Ordinarily, this would be illegal as all get-out, but my dad was a Park Ranger and we were collecting the rocks for the museum at Yavapai Point.  Years later, when I visited the canyon again, I was rather put-out.  The large rocks we had hauled up and down the canyon trails had been cut down to samples twice the size of my fist.  I carried rocks three times the size, and they cut them down to little bitty pieces.  We could have chopped them down to size before lugging them around.

 According to more than half of Americans, the Grand Canyon is a monument to Noah’s Flood.   The shales, limestones, sandstones, lava flows, block faulting of the Grand Canyon Supergroup, the metamorphic Vishnu Schist and Zoroaster Granite (metamorphosed from sandstone, limestone, shale and lava flows) were deposited during and directly after the Noatic flood.  A few days of water draining off of the land (to where?) depositing different types of sediment (sediment from where?) leaving the Grand Canyon.  Some Christian Young Earth Creationists see the miracle of God in everything and dismiss naturalistic explanations as being limited, depressing, and heretical.

When I first encountered this view of geology, my thought was, “How limited.  How depressing.  How boring.”  Two billion years of history reduced to a couple of weeks of flood drainage.  A kindergartner’s version of earth history.  Talk Origins very effectively argues against this rather primitive myth.

The reality is not only based upon fact, but a much better non-mythical tale.

Between 1.7 billion and 2 billion years ago, ancient (well, hell, at that age, they better be ancient) sediments, the remains of seas, deserts, deltas and volcanic eruptions, were folded into a mountain range that may have been higher than the Rocky Mountains.  The pressure and heat at the root of the mountains metamorphosed the sediments creating the Vishnu and Zoroaster formations.  Over millions of years, the mountains were eroded by wind, rain, ice and snow,  down to their roots.  Thanks to the changes wrought by metamorphosis, along with the lavas, radiometric dating gives a very accurate age.

This plain creates the Pre-Cambrian uncomformity — a time when no sediment was being deposited.  This gap in time represents about 450 million years.

Starting around 1,250 million years ago, a shallow sea flooded the plain laying down the Bass Limestone — the beginnings of the Unkar Group.  Over the next 150 million years, the Hakatai Shale, Shinumo Quartzite, Dox Sandstone and Cardenas lavas were successively laid down.  Stromatolites and primitive algae fossils are found in the Bass and Dox formations. Again, the lava flows make accurate dating easy.

Another uncomformity, this one of about 50 million years, separates out a sandstone (the Nankoweap formation, found only in the eastern Grand Canyon).  After another uncomformity of  50 million years, the Chuar Group was deposited.  The Galeros formation (interbedded shale, limestone and sandstone), the shale and mudstone of the Kwagunt, and the sandstone and shale of the Sixtymile formation were laid down between 825 and 1,000 million years ago.  One more uncomformity (called the Great Uncomformity), represents a gap of 280 million years (to put things in perspective, that amount of time covers the entire time from before the dinosaurs to today).

Each of these groups, and the unconfomities separating them, represent a quarter-of-a-billion years.  They represent seas, oceans, eruptions, deserts, deltas, valleys, plains and mud bogs are from a time when there were no vertebrates, no complex plants, no predators, no prey, no land animals, no land plants, no breathable air.  A time when none of the animals supposedly on Noah’s Ark existed.

Following the Great Unconformity is the Tonto Formation (Tonto is Spanish for silly or stupid — and having hiked across the plains of the Tonto Formation many times, I would have to agree).  The Tapeats Sandstone was laid down by an ocean and includes fossil trilobites (during the 5 years I lived at Grand Canyon, I never saw a fossil trilobite (always pissed me off)) and brachiopods.  One hell of a jump in complexity of life. This 545 million year old wave sorted sandstone is the tan cliff at the top of the inner gorge of the canyon.  About 530 million years ago, the Bright Angel Shale was laid down (interspersed with some sandy limestone and sandstone lensing) followed 15 million years later by the Muav Limestone.

Yet another uncomformity of 165 million years separates the Tonto from the Temple Butte formation.  This limestone and dolomite fills in creek and river valleys carved into the top of the Bright Angel Shale.  This eroded layer is further proof of the incredible time factor involved — the Bright Angel had to solidify before the creeks and rivers created the uneven upper contact. 

One of the two most dramatic formations is a brown limestone cliff standing some 400 to 500 feet high.  Minerals washed down from above give it a dramatic bright red colour as well as its name:  Redwall Limestone.  Dating to 335 million years ago, this massive formation of dolomite and limestone includes brachiopods, clams, snails, corals, fish and trilobites.

Above the Redwall is the Supai Formation.  This 285 million year old formation consists of shale and mudstones with a little limestone and sandstone mixed in.  Iron oxides wash out of the Supai and down the face of the Redwall.  This formation, probably a massive river delta (think Louisiana) includes fossils of amphibians, reptiles and terrestrial plants. 

The 265 million year old Hermit Shale tops the Supai Formation.  This is one of the softer rocks in the canyon.  As it erodes, it undercuts the Coconino Sandstone, occasionally sending massive blocks tumbling down the canyon walls, sometimes as far as the Tonto Formation.  Fossils include ferns, conifers and other plants, as well as some fossilized tracks of reptiles and amphibians.

The other incredibly dramatic layer in the Grand Canyon is the Coconino Sandstone.  This pale yellowish-white sandstone represents a desert environment (no, AIG, it is not an aquatic formation!) and dates to about 260 million years ago.  There are no skeletal fossils, but trackways and raindrop fossils are found.

The Toroweap Formation consists of sandy limestone, slightly darker than the Kaibab above, is a 255 million year old.  Along with the 5 million year younger Kaibab Limestone, it represents a Triassic sea.  Fossils include brachiopods, corals, sea lilies, mollusks, worms and fish teeth.  This is the whitish bathtub ring around the top of the Grand Canyon.  Younger layers (which can be seen at Arches, Zion, Capital Reef and Cedar Breaks) have been eroded away.

Here’s a shorter version of what I just described:

 grand33

(Graphic from the University of Michigan

So why describe the layers of the Grand Canyon so minutely?  Mostly, to show the abject poverty of the creationists mythology.  Within this one vertical slice of earth’s history, we see the roots of a mighty mountain chain in the Pre-Cambrian metamorphic rocks of the inner gorge.  We see evidence of erosion, deposition, erosion, deposition, and block faulting and tilting in the Grand Canyon Supergroup.  We see the advance and recession, over massive periods of time, of oceans and seas.  We see the swamps of deltas, the eroded surface of an undulating plain, a massive desert of sand dunes and small lacertilians, and another ocean.  We see the different types of rock, added, folded, changed, erodes, and deposited in many different environments. 

And we see fossils.  From the stromatolites and algae of the Grand Canyon Supergroup to the brachiopods and trilobites of the Tonto Group, from the snails, corals, fish and trilobites of the Redwall to the ferns and amphibians of the Supai, from the reptiles of the Coconino to the fish, sea lilies and corals of the Kaibab, we see the development of life.  From algae to lizards, from trilobites to fish, from ferns to conifers, we see the fossil column match exactly the geological column.  We can date the layers accurately either through various radiometric methods or by comparing an ‘undateable’ fossil from the Grand Canyon with a radiometrically dated fossil from elsewhere in the world.

Were the Grand Canyon the result of the Noatic Flood, would all the different dating methods reliably yield the same ages in the same order?  the same gaps?  Were the Grand Canyon the result of the Noatic Flood, would the fossil column show the development of life from the algae and stromatolites of the Pre-Cambrian through the advanced fishes of the Triassic?  In the same order shown elsewhere in the world?

Young Earth Creationism, Biblical Literalism, and Christian Fundamentalism is a severely limiting philosophy.  By assuming that the answer to any question is that God Did It, creationists choose to ignore the reality around them.  They ignore the evidence left by billions of years of earth’s history.  Their version of earth is without evidence.  Their version of earth is without proof.  Their version of earth is limited, depressing and boring.  Their version of earth is a poverty of the human spirit of inquiry, knowledge and truth.

Sadly, men and women who follow this anti-intellectual pseudo-philosophy and attempting to force their limited view of the possible down the throats of all Americans.  In Texas, anti-intellectual godbots are attempting to limit the study of American history, of evolution and biology, and even the age of the universe.   And Texas, being such a big buyer of textbooks, influences limits the choices of every state in the union.

If you prefer the one paragraph version near the top of this post, so be it.  Just don’t expect the rest of us to bend over and take it.  Two billion years of geologic proof trumps a bunch of self-contradictory bronze age myths.  And it does it by studying the evidence.  Ya’ll should try it.  Might be a new experience for you.

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28 comments

  1. (((Billy))), as a rabid Christian, there is almost nothing in this article I would quibble with.
    Good post.

    -Blessings!
    R. Eric Sawyer


  2. By assuming that the answer to any question is that God Did It, creationists choose to ignore the reality around them.

    Am I the only one who sees a religionist who scoffs at YECs comparable to a casual smoker who scoffs at the two-pack-a-day smokers? Oh that’s just crazy to believe god made the Earth old looking and it’s really only 6,000 years old, but he did make the Earth, and us, and oh yeah, morals, too. THAT’S not crazy. 🙄


  3. Chief, what I find absurd is the idea that “evidence doesn’t matter, I know what I believe” I think that is pretty close to a cardinal sin, if there is such a thing.
    Those who reject truth are those most in danger of being cut off from Truth.
    I also think it absurd to twist facts, such as the fossil record, until they reach a pre-ordained conclusion. It is reasonable to see if new data can be fitted into an existing meta-story, but at some point, you have to realize that you are just torturing the data.

    I do believe that “God created” but that is a consequence of my belief in God. I don’t know how much proof one gets of God from the physical world. If one lived inside “Hamlet,” I don’t know how much you could deduce about Shakespeare; unless of course he wrote himself into the story, which is what Christians claim God did.


  4. It is reasonable to see if new data can be fitted into an existing meta-story, but at some point, you have to realize that you are just torturing the data.

    But how to draw the line? For instance, dismissal of ‘god created everything already old’ but not ‘god created everything’. The latter is a consequence of your belief, the former a consequence of theirs. What’s the gauge by which to judge one belief vs another?


    • Fair question, Chief. Of course, ultimately “they” and I agree that there exists an actual Truth, external to either of the two ideas. The ideas are approximations only, and I expect them both to be blown away by the real deal. But I look to reason, and tradition for guidance. I can see some rolling their eyes at “tradition” but all I really mean by that is “what do my colleagues think? And “what did they think when they had different prejudices than we do in my century?”
      As to the question at hand, I have characterized God as capital T Truth.
      God (as I understand Him) could have made the Earth with a geologic record of a past which it did not in fact have, sort of like giving us an imaginary “brain-twister” to try and figure out. A mental equivalent of hamsters running in a wheel – good intellectual exercise, but ultimately not connected with anything real.
      I suppose He could have done that, but I don’t think it very consistent with that characterization of God as Truth. I think that ultimately, things are what they are.
      They may be more subtle than they first appear, there may be deeper and deeper layers of understanding, as the last 130 years growth in our understanding of the atom, but I don’t think God would set any outright lies.
      Anyway, not to debate that issue, but that is how I attempt to figure where the line is. Like the search for a unified field theory, I want an explanation of God, and what He does that is consistent with other things I think I know. If it isn’t consistent, I suspect one or the other, or look for a deeper unifying principal that I haven’t understood.


  5. (((Billy))),
    Now I’m sorry I went to DC for vacation. All that history packed into one trip into the Grand Canyon sounds, if you’ll pardon me, Divine.


  6. Postie:

    You were in DC? And you didn’t call me? Oh, right – that’s the week I went to NY.


    • Alas, we are two ships that vacation in the night… or something like that. I’ll email you a picture of me chatting up Lincoln’s big toe.


  7. R. Eric: So what is your criteria for deciding which parts of the Bible are unbelievable and which are believable? If Genesis (which is not a bad creation myth) and much of the rest of the Old Testament are not to be taken as literal, how does a non-literalist Christian decide?

    Philly: Nice comparison. Then again, I tend to look down on cigarette smokers as I puff on my pipe or a cigar, so who am I to talk? er, write?

    Postie: I lived there for five years when my dad worked there. I do, however, strongly recommend a vacation there. And while your at it, visit Wupatki, Sunset Crater, Canyon de Chelly, Navajo, Hubbel Trading Post and. . . Ah, hell, just get a map of the four courners area and hit every national park. It’ll be an enjoyable 5 or 6 weeks.

    Chappie: And you were 5 miles from me. Your point?

    Postie: Why would anyone in their right mind go to DC in the summer? Oh, right. Actor. Sorry.


  8. (((Billy))), here I am giving just my personal thoughts, and they are likely to get me attacked by both conservative and liberal Christians. I start by taking the Bible all as true, even the parts that are not historically descriptive truth. I take that the message contained is the message God wanted me to read. If it is myth, it is the myth He wanted me to wrestle with. I don’t always feel very confident as to which is literal, and which is symbolic, but if I regard all as true, it takes some of the pressure off that decision. I’m no paleontologist, but if I were, I would feel free to follow wherever the fossil record lead, without having to fit it into a pre-known conclusion. On the other hand, I think there are great truths in the story of Noah. I rather imagine these as grandfather pulling me up on his chair when I was asking “why,” and instead of answering, he said “let me tell you a story…” Even if it were “a story” it was never JUST a story. What Grandpa said was true, story or not.

    This is not to say that I throw out the “supernatural” elements of the Bible. I absolutely do not. I think that as the Bible progresses, it becomes less mythical and more narrative. I do not doubt that “miracles” can and have occurred, I just don’t hang much on any particular account of one.

    The other thought your question raises is that while my faith is supported by and informed by the Bible, it is not faith IN the bible. I think that for some folks, that is the repository of their faith, and any threat against it brings their whole world down. My faith is in the God *described* in the Bible, ratified by what I understand as personal experience of Him, and upheld by what I think reasonable cohesion of the rest of my experience (both of ideas and events) around that faith. I have a hard time understanding those who limit God to their own understanding of this or that book. If He is at all, He is limited by Himself, not by my comprehension.

    Long answer to say that I don’t really know where literal stops, but I’m not much troubled by it, since I accept it all as true, whether literal or not.

    R. Eric Sawyer


  9. Eric: But the belief is still based upon faith. If you have faith that the Bible (and then my question is, which version of the Bible?) accurately describes God as you understand God, then how do you make the decision regarding which part of the Bible is necessary for describing God and which is not?

    Additionally, the god(s) described in the Old Testament keep changing. The difference between the Old Testament god(s) and the New Testament version described in the acceptable gospels is rather stark. And the gospels attributed to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John each have a slightly different idea of the meaning of God as described by the teachings attributed to Jesus.

    I do, however, appreciate your honesty. It is refreshing to discuss ideas with a theist who recognizes that the personal ideas, prejudices (we all prejudge ideas based upon who we are and what our history is (one sign of maturity is recognizing our internal prejudices and inategrating that acceptance into our decision making process)), and education of the individual affect what is necessary for a person’s faith. I disagree with you about faith, but I appreciate your honesty.


  10. All it comes down to is you’ve created your idea of “Truth” and judge other’s claims of “Truth” based on how well they jive with yours. The evaluation process might be rational, perhaps even the process of refining your creation, but what most here have an objection to is your initial creative process. It’s THAT which, imo, leaves your evaluation of another’s creation without an objective leg to stand on.


  11. Chief, about the only quible I have with your comment is that “my idea” should be absolutely spelled with a lower-case t, “truth”. The reason I think this a big deal is that I think I think there is a big-T “Truth” that I will never completely understand. That is the heart, the irreducible center of my faith. If this were overthrown, and I could not get around it, I would be undone.

    Any creation I may have done, any self-selecting of systems, is an attempt to bring my own conception of truth more into line with the Truth, which I think is beyond my full knowlege. When I use tools like “Truth is consistant with itself” as a tool to judge between ideas, it is as an aid in the process of bringing the “t” in line with the “T” It is trying to bring the subjective t in line with the objective T.
    The main thing is to know the difference.


  12. Eric: Can one get close to truth (big or small t) through faith? Or is the most effective approximation of truth achieved through evidence? In other words, does the truth which the multitudinous disciplines of science brings us have more validity as a way to explain the universe than the myths of bronze-age mystics?

    Truth is not constant. Truth, even within the Bible, keeps changing. The human concept of god(s) keeps changing. The accepted truth regarding marriage, business, lending, slavery, anatomy, biology, education, (I could go on for long time, here) keeps changing as human society and learning changes.

    A thousand years ago, the Roman Catholic Church allowed believers to eat fish on meatless days because the Truth (at the time) was that fish did not reproduce sexually (they were created spontaneously by the water). Wich brings me back to my initial question regarding faith or evidence. The human (scientific) explanation for the rocks within the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River in Northern Arizona has changed repeatedly, each time getting closer to an objective Truth (we will, of course, never reach the full Truth (those pesky unconformities, of course)).

    Which makes more sense as a human being within the universe: a faith-based decision, without any objective physical evidence, that a supernatural being exists, or an evidentially-based decision to accept the natural world, with all of its evidence, at face value?

    Do we experience different truths? Of course we do. Do we have different standards of evidence? Of course. The big difference, though, is that I can point to physical evidence in the natural world which argue for a non-god system, evidence which can be viewed by any and all. Your system, though, requires that I accept the evidence which exists in a state which I cannot view, cannot experience, cannot verify in any manner.

    That is the difference.


  13. In other words, does the truth which the multitudinous disciplines of science brings us have more validity as a way to explain the universe than the myths of bronze-age mystics?

    (((Billy))), evidence is the best avenue, science is the best way I know for understanding how things work on a material level. It is totally inadequate for determining anything besides the material relm, or even whether or not there is anything else to explain. Myths, of whatever age, are an attempt to make statements about that “anything else”

    Truth is not constant. Truth, even within the Bible, keeps changing. The human concept of god(s) keeps changing. ….

    It is the small t approximation of the truth that keeps changing. The underlying reality is constant. For the discussion, Assume there is no god of any kind (I know it’s hard, but work with me here) If that is the Truth, then it is always the Truth, no matter what people like me think the truth is. Ultimate Truth is what it is, whether I or anyone else gets it at all.

    A thousand years ago, the Roman Catholic Church allowed believers to eat fish on meatless days because the Truth (at the time) was that fish did not reproduce sexually (they were created spontaneously by the water).

    Same point, what the church thought was true was not. Truth is what it is, and that understanding has hopefully become more accurate.

    Which brings me back to my initial question regarding faith or evidence. The human (scientific) explanation for the rocks within the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River in Northern Arizona has changed repeatedly, each time getting closer to an objective Truth (we will, of course, never reach the full Truth (those pesky unconformities, of course)).

    Total agreement

    Do we experience different truths? Of course we do. Do we have different standards of evidence? Of course. The big difference, though, is that I can point to physical evidence in the natural world which argue for a non-god system, evidence which can be viewed by any and all. Your system, though, requires that I accept the evidence which exists in a state which I cannot view, cannot experience, cannot verify in any manner.

    We certainly experience different parts of the one Truth. And we often mistake our portion for the whole story. I dare say the geologist experiences the Grand Canyon differently than does the artist or poet, and I won’t argue which is more valid or more important.

    Science “works” largely by eliminating/controlling for variables outside the target of the investigation. As to matters of religion, it gets on by saying “how does this work, if we discount the idea of God?” And that technique has been wonderfully successful. But not, in my view, because there *is* no God, but because science has no power to investigate something outside the physical universe, He must be “postulated” out of existence in order to avoid “godidit”
    The principles discovered by this method are part of what I understand as God.

    And with that, gentlemen, I am back to another fun-filled week directing funerals. Probably off the blog for most of that. I have enjoyed the exchange.

    R. Eric Sawyer


  14. • I have characterized God as capital T Truth.
    • I think there is a big-T “Truth” that I will never completely understand. That is the heart, the irreducible center of my faith. If this were overthrown, and I could not get around it, I would be undone.
    • Any creation I may have done, any self-selecting of systems, is an attempt to bring my own conception of truth more into line with the Truth

    And that was my point. Your starting point is a point of faith, the belief in an existence of a god or “Truth”, a thing which is not only unknown but, by your own admission, something that can’t be completely understood. Therefore, without a reference point, there’s no objective way to judge one’s opinions about “Truth”.

    Take for instance the ghost of Michael Jackson. Imagine one group asserting this was his ghost because ghosts appear as shadowy forms, another discounting it because their understanding of ghosts is that they emit light and this clearly wasn’t doing that and another group discounting both because a “real” ghost couldn’t be caught on film. Which one, if any, has an objective leg to stand on in assessing the others’ “truth” about the “Truth”?


  15. Eric: The only big truth in the universe is scientific. As we learn more an more about the universe, some of the old universal truths are discarded, replaced by a more accurate approximation of proof.

    Any personal philosphical truth is just that — personal. It is only valid for the one individual. You actually argue the changeability of personal truth (your big T Truth) with your smorgasborde approach to the Bible. Each believer, each theist, each Christian, does exactly the same thing. And that personalized Truth is valid for exactly one person.

    Scientific truth (and scientists, I know, do not seek truth, they seek understanding through data, observation, equations, approximations and through laws and theories), however, is valid for every single human being, every sentient being in the universe whether they believe it or not! To claim that your personal Truth, which can only be valid for you personally, is valid for all of human kind speaks of a great deal of hubris. To then argue that, because it is your Truth, it is the Truth for all humanity? I don’t have the words to respond to that. Really.

    Philly: I think part of the problem is the Eric sees his personal revalatory Truth as being equivalent to the geological and paleaological evidence seen in the rocks, minerals and fossils of the Grand Canyon. If it is solid to him, it must be solid for everyone.


  16. (((Billy))) that is not too far off my position, except for one glaring point. That is the difference between my personal approximation of the truth, and what I call capital T Truth, The Truth. The first is entirely as you describe, and it would be great hubris indeed to require that all adopt “the truth according to Eric” I make no such claim for all the reasons you say. But I do believe that there is “the way things really are” to which we are all subject whether we acknowledge it or not. The sciences have proven by far he most potent tool for understanding “that which is” in this material universe. The question is whether there is anything more. I think there is, and that the scientific method is powerless to confirm or deny. That is part of my small t approximation of truth, to which none are subject. The large T real Truth is something that we both will be subject to regardless of whether our small t approximations got it right.

    One of my stock phrases is
    “hold on to the Truth tightly, but hold on to your ideas about the truth very loosely indeed.


    • But you still assume, as a starting position, that, because of your faith, because of your personal revalatory history, that you have the only correct Truth and the rest of us have no understanding at all and cannot unless we experience your revelation. Your higher Truth is based totally upon your experience. It is not independently verifiable. So without any evidence, proof, or even logical progression, I am to your Truth, a Truth which, by your faith, trumps all of the research of the last 500 years of scientific discovery.


  17. […] (((Billy))) nails it. […]


  18. Not exactly, (((Billy))). The problem lies in the assumption that there is a “Truth” to begin with. If “truth” is the understanding of “Truth”, but “Truth” is not only unknowable but belief in its existence relies solely on faith, then I don’t see how it’s possible to critique another’s “truth” concerning “Truth”. Got it?

    This whole thing prompted me to write a new post on my blog, and that’s the truth.


  19. Philly: I would think that each one of us has an internal ‘Truth’ — a philosophy which makes us who we are. The trouble starts when someone assumes that his Truth is applicable anywhere other than between his (or her) ears. The trouble gets even worse when someone assumes that, since he derived his Truth from a ‘holy book’, that his Truth cannot be altered. Those with an authoritarian or religious bent tend to assume that their inner Truth is universal rather than personal. Those with a more open mind assume (or at least I do) that my inner Truth is both mutable and personal.


    • Nope, still not getting it. “Truth” can’t be altered for it’s conceived of as an absolute. What could be derived from a holy book is “truth” about the “Truth”.

      I see no reason to believe there is a “Truth”, therefore I don’t see a holy book or anything else capable of providing any “truth” about “Truth” other than that it’s unreasonable to believe there is a “Truth”. That would be a “truth” that a believer would disagree with for they take on faith that there is a “Truth”, so that excludes any possibility that such “truth” could be “truth”. Oh, and of course I’d probably be labeled close-minded. 😉

      If it’ll make it any easier for you, just substitute “god” for “Truth”.


  20. Chief, I think you’ve got it. Of course, “Truth” could prove me wrong, and what we see is all there is, end of story. In that case, that is the Truth to which I will be subject, along with the folks who understood it right from the git-go.

    Critiquing anothers approximation of truth requires a base that both sides agree as authoritative. When talking with you folks, natural reason seems the authority. With folks who go a little further with me, we may add something to that.
    But you’re right, the great divide is over pure materialism: Is what science can see the end of the story.


  21. Chief, as I bet you suspect, I substituted “Truth” for “God” to make it easier for you, and to get at the real issue -not just “is there a God” but is there such a thing as a stable reality, “Truth”
    Your own aproximation says that there is no such thing, any aproximation is as good as another because there is no absolute to which they should conform. If that is true, then you are right that it would be arrogent in the extreme to proclaim my (or anyones) understanding as better than any other. Use the view that works for you, whatever that means, just don’t pretend there is any reality behind it.

    Aside from thinking that you are wrong about that, I think such an idea raises many logical difficulties. But I would like to continue that thought at another time (feel free to cary on in my absence!)


  22. You’ve got some slight of hand working there. How many things are you going to assign to “Truth”? First it was god, not it’s a stable reality. That breeds confusion, which leads to my objection to there being a god as being illogical because objecting to a stable reality is illogical.


  23. […] the amazing geology of the Grand Canyon and his own background,  (((Billy))) The Atheist shows us the poverty of a Young Earth viewpoint. I’ve never visited the Grand Canyon, but Billy’s piece moved me to make it a priority […]


  24. Creation vs. evolution:
    Creation= Intelligent Designer=all existence is planned.
    Evolution=random selection=innumerable atomic and sub-atomic accidents.
    Science is not exclusive to either evolutionists or creationists.
    Evolution=presently considered by a perceived (since it can not be determined either way) majority as the truth. This change in perception can be attributed, in large part, to the work of Charles Darwin in the mid 19th century, Albert Einstein in the 20th century, and many other scientists past and present. A main tenet of evolutionists is that science and creationism are incompatible.
    Creation=with the exception of ancient Greeks who considered science an intellectual exercise, not a practical application, from around 600 B.C., science originated in the 16th-17th century A.D.. A main tenet is that science is a means of identifying the creator. Here are some examples:
    Francis Bacon- considered the father of modern science—said “There are two books on which we should read. One was Scripture, the other the book of nature.”
    Johannes Kepler- Celestial Mechanics — said scientists are “thinking God’s thoughts after Him.”
    Sir Isaac Newton, arguably the greatest scientist of all time,-calculus and dynamics— is quoted as saying…”this most beautiful system of sun, planets, and comets could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being. This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all and account of His Dominion He is wont* to be called Lord God.” And,
    “Atheism is so senseless. When I look at the solar system, I see the earth at the right distance from the sun to receive the proper amounts of heat and light. This did not happen by chance.”
    Other creation believing scientists include:
    Louis Pasteur- bacteriology.
    Lord Kelvin-energetics
    Blaise Pascal-hydrostatics
    Charles Babbage-computer science
    Lord Joseph Lister-antiseptic surgery
    Robert Boyle-chemistry
    James Simpson-anesthesiology
    Samuel Morse-telegraphy
    Belief doctrines for the beginning of all existence:
    Creationists believe in the formation of all things by The Almighty God, in 6 literal days.
    Evolutionists currently believe that nothing exploded nothing else, nowhere, thus the big bang created all that exists. This belief should be left open to change based on future scientific discoveries.

    * From Wikipedia, in the list of commonly misused English words:
    Won’t is a contraction for “will not”, while wont is a rare, slightly archaic word meaning “accustomed” or “inclined to” (as an adjective) or “habit or custom” (as a noun).



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