Category Archives: geology

A Creationist from Merica goes to Scotland and gets Hutton all wrong on geology

Henry ford is alleged to have said “history is bunk”. He was right as much supposed history is utter bunk and here is an example about James Hutton who some wrongly reckon to be the Father of Geology and invented the idea of millions of years!

It is a sort of inverted version of the Conflict Thesis of Science and Christianity, and is an example how misunderstanding the history of science leads to all kinds of distortions

Here an American comes out with a load of bunk on Hutton

https://creationmoments.com/sermons/the-birth-of-deep-time/?mc_cid=9e2c97f9ff&mc_eid=251871d2b4&fbclid=IwAR1ZEJMqm_G48c8UdAXZJQCLyudxug1CdP7Pi9y26aMeAXaaRBdpmXrXVLo

Psalm 78:15
“He clave the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink as out of the great depths.”

I was on an open-topped tour bus, seeing the sights of downtown Edinburgh—the capital city of Scotland. From this vantage point, our guide stopped frequently, to tell us about John Knox’s grave and house, the Royal Mile, and beautiful Edinburgh Castle. At one stop, there were three things to see. To our left was Britain’s ugliest building—the Scottish Parliament. Straight ahead was Holyrood House—where the Queen lives when she is in Edinburgh. And to the right was a cliff face, called Salisbury Crag. This rocky outcrop consists of a lower level of greywacke, topped by several layers of sedimentary rock.

The guide pointed the crag out to us, and said that in 1787, the crag was studied by James Hutton. In fact, the guide said that in 1787, it was by studying these rocks that James Hutton proved the Bible to be wrong.

Why would this guide think that Hutton had disproved the Bible? Hutton invented the concept of deep time; of millions of years. He supposed the unconformity separating the two rock sections must have been formed by erosion, millions of years ago. In fact, this smooth erosion is evidence consistent with a much shorter age. The lower rock would have been laid down early in the Flood, and turned over while still plastic. Powerful underwater currents would have caused the erosion that we see. Finally, the layers of rock would have been laid down on top. This model is fully consistent with the truthful account in God’s word.

Prayer: Your word stands forever, O Lord. Nothing can take away from Your word. We pray that we might submit completely to Your word, that we might not sin against you. Amen.

Author: Paul F. Taylor

Ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hutton’s_Unconformity. Image: Ann Traynor, Creative Commons Attribution, Share-Alike 3.0 Unported.

© 2022 Creation Moments.  All rights reserved.

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Now here is a Merican touring England, except of course it is Scotland not England! We have the matey approach saying “I was there like Kilroy so I must be right.”!!

And so Paul Taylor learnt ” In fact, the guide said that in 1787, it was by studying these rocks that James Hutton proved the Bible to be wrong.”

james-hutton-caraciture

I sorta have my doubts whether the tour guide actually said that, or anything like it. Anyway Hutton never ever said such thing!!

In fact two years earlier in 1785 He was writing a summary of his geological views, which contained a summary of perceived religious implications. These he sent to the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Dr Robertson for consideration and comment.

Here is part of it and he never thought he had disproved the Bible!!

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So there’s the first mistake. But he goes on to say

Hutton invented the concept of deep time; of millions of years. 

  Poor lad, he was a bit wrong. It all started in the 1680s in the Llanberis Pass in Snowdonia when Edward Lhwyd reckoned from the numbers of boulders lying on the floor, many had been there before 4004BC. A decade earlier than Hutton the Frenchman Buffon was insisting on at least 74,000 years from cooling experiments. Privately he indicated millions of years. Even earlier Fr Needham accepted “millions of years” and was hardly an atheist. 

In fact, most savants in the 18th century thought the earth was ancient, and the discussion was whether it was millions or hundreds of thousands. By 1787 an old earth was quite acceptable to most educated Christians – if they knew much about science.

To claim “millions of years” was the atheistic idea of Hutton is just nonsense. Yes, he was a deist but his science and ideas of geological time were acceptable to all but the most conservative Christian, even though many preferred a little less time time, that is less than a million but never 4004BC!!

There is no unconformity here!!! He got that wrong too!

It is magma intruded into sandstone as Hutton realised

This is very clear when you read this BGS (British Geological Survey) excursion guide to Salisbury Crags

https://earthwise.bgs.ac.uk/index.php/Arthur%27s_Seat,_Salisbury_Crags,_Edinburgh_-_an_excursion

It says;

The justly famous Hutton’s Section of the base of Salisbury Crags Sill is found towards the south-eastern end of the escarpment, and provided Hutton and his followers with telling evidence in favour of magmatic intrusion in the great argument with the Wernerians in the eighteenth century. Beneath the sill lie well-bedded Cementstone Group strata, alternately red and white. The sill transgresses the bedding conspicuously in two places. At the first the sediment against the transgression is crumpled; at the other a wedge of teschenite has been intruded beneath a block of sediment, rotating it upwards from its original position and partly engulfing it in the sill. At the western end of the section, the teschenite immediately above the contact has been chilled to a glassy skin up to a centimetre thick, which has now been devitrified to a greenish material. Above the glass the teschenite is very fine in grain but coarsens markedly upwards. In the rock-face to the south-east of Hutton’s section large rafts of sediment can be seen high in the sill. The rafts are not distorted and lie parallel to the strata below the sill. Still farther to the south-west, syenitic segregation veins up to 5 in thickness cut the sill.

Scale is very important!

Here is a contemporary sketch in which the scales are all wrong as the men would need to be FOURS TIMES the size for a true scale. However it brings out the magma intruding into the shales.

In fact it was in June 1788 that Hutton discovered the unconformity  at Siccar Point some 30 miles south east of Edinburgh.

The photo shows near horizontal Devonian strata (red) (360my lying on nearly vertical grey Silurian Greywackes (420my)

Angular Unconformity at Siccar Point, Scotland. Siccar Point, Scotland (Photo: Wikipedia “Hutton’s Unconformity”)

This is an article but rather mythical on what Hutton was doing as it is wrong to say ;

Siccar Point is world-famous as the most important unconformity described by James Hutton (1726-1797) in support of his world-changing ideas on the origin and age of the Earth.

https://www.geowalks.co.uk/siccar-point/

By the time Hutton went there many had realised that the earth was ancient decades before. Sadly many repeat myths about Hutton.

Well the author Ken Taylot got things so badly wrong that this is the only reaction

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this is a good book to read;

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Creation Moments is one of the many American Creationist sites and is possibly more inaccurate than Answers in Genesis. It goes back 60 years.

The History Of Our Christian Radio Broadcast

FIVE DECADES AGO, A MINISTER NEAR BOISE, IDAHO, NOTICED A TROUBLING TREND…

Founder Pastor Walter Lang found many of the young Christians in his congregation abandoning their Christian roots after spending a year or two in college. “Could this be happening in other churches around the country?” he wondered. It was. Lang decided to do something about it.

Evolutionary theory, with its godless worldview, was poisoning young minds in Lang’s church. These young people were taught evolutionary theory as fact, with no mention of Biblical perspectives and creationism theories. Lang searched the country for a publication devoted to promoting creationism theories. There was none. That’s when he decided to start Bible-Science Association (now Creation Moments, Inc.)

Lang saw a problem and did what he could to solve it. Today, every Christian creationist organization owes a debt of gratitude to Lang’s vision. We know, however, that his work is not complete. Every day, evolutionary theory is taught in public schools, confusing the hearts and minds of young people. It dismantles the faith the godly parents have sought to instill in their children. Instead of “Train up a child in the way he should go.” (Proverbs 22:6), evolution promotes the secular humanist dogma that “God is dead; religion is an opiate.” In the end, evolution seeks to dislodge God from His rightful place as our Creator and Sustainer.

From Walter Lang’s simple vision, Creation Moments now serves Christian youth and adults alike. We are committed to promote, teach and study creationism theories and the truth of divine creation as revealed in the Bible. It is our goal to build up the Church and enlighten the world to the wonder and the truth of God’s marvelous creation. We hope you will join us in this important mission. Together we can reach the hearts and minds of a lost and needy world!

Since 1963, Creation Moments, Inc. (formerly the Bible-Science Association) has been communicating the truth of creation. That ministry continues today through Christian radio broadcasts, seminars, publications and a bookstore outreach. In 1986 the two-minute international Christian radio broadcast “Creation Moments” was born. “Creation Moments” is one of the top five US syndicated radio programs of five minutes or less. “Creation Moments” is carried on five major networks: Bible Broadcast, Moody, LifeTalk Network, Family Radio and Bott Radio.

I first came across this when it was the Bible Science Association in the 1980s, when I trawled every possible American creationist outfit.

It is a good idea to get your facts right and it is not quite right to make stories up to prove the Gospel

Lying about Lyell

For several years “Is Genesis History?” Has been churning out videos and articles from a creationist standpoint, trying to show the earth is only  a few thousand years old and geologists have got it wrong.

May be an image of 2 people and text

The group are centred around videos striving to show that Young earth Creationism is a viable option and better than the sad, sad story of long age geology and evolution. They have recruited experts, some of whom have Ph Ds in geology  eg Kurt Wise , Marcus Ross, Andrew Snelling and Steve Austin. I’ve met all bar Snelling. It’s odd they have Ph Ds in geology and then say it’s all wrong. Here’s a list of experts with bios;

https://isgenesishistory.com/category/experts/

The videos and short blogs are posted on FB and social media at regular intervals. Here’s one on how to measure geological time, which is replete with inaccuracy, inuendo and falsehood, which completely gets dear Lyell wrong. The geologists I mentioned should know that!!

It is classic science denial from an ideological standpoint which twists the science to convince their clientele, who usually know little science. Thus their beliefs are reinforced and doubters forced out as heretics.

Part of the Explore the Film series.

5.How do you measure Time?

“The Bible would say that the past is the key to the present.” – Andrew Snelling, Geologist at SP Crater & Sedona, Arizona

This youtube video is very critical of radiometric age dating and other things but I’ll focus on the short blog

Learn more about radioisotope dating and flood geology in

https://isgenesishistory.com/5-measure-time/?fbclid=IwAR2d2EFczYUjQbSkLSg6XsyQ55NqY7DbKDHHD3YypoA3VzB3ud0FJghRfYY

The text of this is very short so I reproduce it full.

If the Bible presents a concise timeline of history, where does the idea of millions of years come from?

Geologists like Charles Lyell wanted to replace the history recorded in Genesis with a naturalistic history of their own construction. They started with the idea of long ages, then interpreted the rocks in light of their new paradigm.

Today, geologists rely on measuring radioisotope decay and interpret its results in terms of the conventional paradigm. Yet anomalies in these dating methods question their conclusions. Instead, one can look at geological formations to see evidence of a young earth transformed by a global catastrophe: the flat and enormous extent of sedimentary layers; a lack of deep and widespread erosion between most layers; and evidence that sediment was rapidly deposited by huge amounts of water.

If the Bible presents a concise timeline of history, where does the idea of millions of years come from?

This sounds very plausible but begs so many questions.

Yes the bible does have a time line, but even for conservative scholars it is difficult to be precise on dates before King Saul in about 1000BC. This is not to question whether all those mentioned never lived, but giving dates is very tricky.  At best one can say Abraham lived in about 2000BC and before that the text is too vague to compile a timeline, as did Ussher in 1656.

To ask:

 where does the idea of millions of years come from?

is a loaded question implying that the naughty boys like Lyell simply made it up to deny the Bible. That is simply untrue.

You are given the idea that it was conjured up to discredit the bible.

Geologists like Charles Lyell wanted to replace the history recorded in Genesis with a naturalistic history of their own construction. They started with the idea of long ages, then interpreted the rocks in light of their new paradigm.

These two sentences simply do not acknowledge either what Lyell did or where “long ages” came from.

180px-charles_lyell

It is fair to say that before 1660 most educated Christian s in western Europe thought the earth was thousands of years old. In 1490 Columbus not only thought that the earth had a smaller circumference but also reckoned it to be a few thousand years old and wouldn’t last much longer! The classic date was Ussher’s

Jacobus_ussher

4004BC date of 1656, which didn’t have much longevity, though it was included in some bibles from 1700. Cracks/faults appeared in a few years as geological savants began to study strata and by 1700 many of these (mostly Christian) realised it was older than Ussher thought. These included Rev John Ray, who tentatively added on tens of thousands to 4004BC in the 1680s, thanks to his Welsh friend. Edward Lhuyd, of the flower lloydia serontia.

300px-John_Ray_from_NPG

During the 18th century more and more evidence was found for an old earth as more and more throughout Europe looked at rocks. By 1800 hardly any, who could be called geologists, reckoned the earth to be thousands. De Luc and his ilk went for hundreds of thousands and others including Hutton went for millions. None went for 4004BC. So when Lyell was born in 1798 “long ages” were well and truly proven.

james-hutton-caraciture

Hutton chipping away

Unless Lyell was a geologist while in diapers/nappies, which I doubt, “long ages” had nothing to do with him and was the prevailing, unanimous view, when he started to study geology under Rev William Buckland in about 1820. Buckland reckoned on millions but the Rev William Coneybeare, a friend and sparring partner of Lyell only went for quadrillions!!

Bucklandglacier230px-Cyclomedusa_cropped

Buckland in Wales in 1841 and lecturing at Oxford, possibly to Sam Wilberforce & St John Newman

None for these geologists from 1660 started with “the idea of long ages” but continually found evidence pointing to an older earth.

Lyell and his contemporaries had a “new paradigm” but simply built on those who went before. Here I must add that “Catastrophists” and “Uniformitarians” all accept a very ancient earth, so far as “long ages” were concerned they sang from the same hymn book.

As “Is Genesis History?” has several with degrees in geology, it is amazing that they could support such a serious error of fact. It is difficult not to ascribe a severe moral lapse as this seems to more than amateurs getting confused about the science.

At best this is duplicitous.

Today, geologists rely on measuring radioisotope decay and interpret its results in terms of the conventional paradigm. Yet anomalies in these dating methods question their conclusions.

This is a duplicitous slur on how radiometric age-dating has been used since 1907, when Boltwood first tentatively applied it to rocks. To say that geologists “interpret its results in terms of the conventional paradigm.” is simply untrue. One only has to read the history of the development of radiometric age dating. This can be seen in Cherry Lewis’s biography of Arthur Holmes,

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who wrote successive books on the age of the earth from 1913. Initially he thought the age of the earth was 1.8 billion and by the 1940s found the evidence pointed to 4.6 billion. I could mention Claire Pattison too, who was more precise and whose age for the earth is still accepted 70 years later.

“Paradigm” is used here to cast doubt on radiometric age dating. That is not honest.

Creationists often produce “anomalies” but these have been showm to be misrepresentations of research as over Austin’s claims on Mt St Helens

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and Woodmorappe’s list of a 1000 anomalous ages. Years ago I checked about 200 of his list and every time I found he had misrepresented the source.  Exod 20 vs 16 springs to mind.

Instead, one can look at geological formations to see evidence of a young earth transformed by a global catastrophe: the flat and enormous extent of sedimentary layers; a lack of deep and widespread erosion between most layers; and evidence that sediment was rapidly deposited by huge amounts of water.

I suppose having flung out these false accusations he comes out with the ultimate explanation;

Noah’s Flood

He fails to say many sediments are not laid down by water – e.g desert sands or glacial strata, or that limestone reefs form very slowly.

This presentation is a mixture of bad science and duplicity. One would expect more from Christians, whether or not they have geology degrees.

If you want to read more , try this

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Niels Steno, the Father of Stratigraphy

The titular bishop of Titopolis was the father of geology way back in the 1660s – and not Charles Lyell.

He tried to tie geology into Noah’s Flood as did all in his day and was vague on the age of the earth.

Science meets Faith

On 11 January 1638, Niels Steno was born. He was a Danish anatomist, palaeontologist and geologist. He was ordained a Catholic bishop in 1677 in Italy and moved to the Lutheran part of Germany and died in 1686. Having established the theoretical basis for stratigraphy, he can be called the Father of Stratigraphy.

In his work on geology “De solido intra solidum naturaliter contento dissertationis prodromus“ (The Prodromus of Nicolaus Steno’s Dissertation Concerning a Solid Body Enclosed by Process of Nature Within a Solid, 1669) Steno describes four of the defining principles of the science of stratigraphy. These were:

  • the law of superposition: New layers of sediment are deposited on top of older layers (law of superposition), one can determine relative time sequence by examining the order in which strata appear – “At the time when a given stratum was being formed, there was beneath it another substance which…

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Teaching Indigenous thought as science in New Zealand

N.B. Please note that I wrote this on 8/12/21 and much has been written since. Jerry Coyne has waxed eloquent on the topic! Mine is very much a preliminary comment and serious readers need to read more widely!!

Exactly 40 years ago this December the hot topic in science was the trial over the teaching of Creationism in Arkansas.  A bill had been passed a few months earlier to give equal time of the teaching  of “Creation” and “Evolution” in schools.  (Creation mean a 6 day creation some 6 -10,000 years ago according to a literal view of Genesis and Evolution meant an earth some 4.5 billion years old and humans evolving ultimately from a unicellular creature.) At first Creationists in America were rejoicing at their success, but soon forces were mobilised against them.

Soon the bill was challenged in the courts, with a court case running from 7th to17th December 1981. A vast number of witnesses were called on both sides and on Jan 5th 1982 Judge Overton gave a 38 page ruling concluding that Creation Science was not science but religious doctrine and thus could not be taught as science in schools. Neither the euphoria nor the despondency lasted. soon Larry Laudan was in dispute with Michael Ruse on the boundaries of science, with Laudan saying they were not clear-cut.

The issue of creationism has rumbled on and continues to make a stir today. There have been many cases of Creationism being sneakingly taught as science throughout the world. But that is not my concern.

My concern is the controversy in New Zealand over the teaching of Maori beliefs – ‘Matauranga’ – within science. According to an email from NZ to Jerry Coyne

 Matauranga means the knowledge system of the Maori. It includes reference to various gods e.g., Tane the god of the forest is said to be the creator of humans, and of all plants and creatures of the forest. Rain happens when the goddess Papatuanuku sheds tears. Maori try to claim that they have always been scientists. Their political demand is that Matauranga must be acknowledged as the equal of western (pakeha) science; that without this, Maori children will continue to fail in science at school.

As far as I can see this seems a fair description of Matuaranga. There are good intentions behind the introduction into education as Maoris have not been well treated by the British Colonists. The same applies to the new respect for Indigenous beliefs and practices in North America. It is impossible to deny that often the original indigenous populations have been dispossessed and marginalised. This has often made them disadvantaged in many ways. This raises political and ethical issues in many countries. However to put indigenous knowledge on a par with science is not the solution.

Not all are happy with the introduction of Matuaranga and seven professors sent a  letter to the NZ Listener earlier in 2021 to express their concern that it was undermining the teaching of science and Matuaranga had no place in the teaching of science.

Here the authors tried to give a balanced case but they were not popular and have received a backlash  – recounted by Jerry Coyne, who  is usually pretty accurate! Much of my summary is based on his early  blogs. Note that Garth Cooper is of Maori descent.

As a result 2000 academics and public figures signed a petition, including this statement

We, the signatories to this response, categorically disagree with their views. Indigenous knowledges – in this case, Mātauranga – are not lesser to other knowledge systems. Indeed, indigenous ways of knowing, including Mātauranga, have always included methodologies that overlap with “Western” understandings of the scientific method.

However, Mātauranga is far more than just equivalent to or equal to “Western” science. It offers ways of viewing the world that are unique and complementary to other knowledge systems.

Thus we have two serious views. First the magnificent (or not) Seven argue that Matauranga has no place in science teaching and they make a careful and respectful delineation between science and indigenous knowledge. They conclude by writing ” To accept it as the equivalent of science is to patronise and fail indigenous populations.” Here they make a clear demarcation with a sharp boundary between science and indigenous knowledge.  The 2000 wanted a blurred boundary, if one at all, and regard the two as complimentary.

It is also relevant that before the arrival of Europeans in the 19th century Maoris had not put their language to writing, but could produce accurate maps.

What should we think?

To go back to Arkansas and Creationism. A historian or philosopher of science will be more aware of fuzzy boundaries than a contemporary scientist in her/his lab. Historically many things which were once accepted as science are no longer. Think of Alchemy – but chemistry grew out of alchemy, or geology, which began with all strata being laid down in Noah’s Flood, which drained away from the 1660s to the 1840s. 20th century Creationism is a sustained attempt at re-introducing Noah’s Flood as vital for our understanding of geology. Creationists claim their ideas to be of equivalent value, or better, than conventional geology. However 99% or more geologists will see it as the illicit smuggling of a religious belief into science. Most Christians also see it as illicit and not science. Is this the same as Matauranga saying “Rain happens when the goddess Papatuanuku sheds tears.”? I would say that as a Christian (and a minister) and who has a science degree, worked as a geologist, that they are both illicit and wrong and have no place in science or science teaching.

That is not to dismiss and reject religious and indigenous views but to see them in relation to science. Neither will give science, but both can be very valuable in giving a wider perspective than science as in various ways they give values. Science gives no values and thus people have to go to their world view or belief for those.

Perhaps we can consider the cosmology of some bronze age goatsherders! (Village atheists use that expression and fail to recognise that the writers of the Old testament lived in the Iron Age) So some village atheists call the writers of the Old Testament! If you consider Genesis One in its environment, it not only speaks of a young earth, but a FLAT EARTH, with plants before the sun etc. It is on a par with a Rain goddess shedding tears, if taken literally. No secular university today will allow goatsherders’ cosmology to be taught alongside the Big Bang. As an orthodox Christian I value Genesis in what it says about God as Creator and the relationship of humans to creation/nature, but there is no way can it be taught as science. It gives values but not science. We can say the same for Matauranga and respect and value what it says about our relationship to the natural world, but reject it as science.

Any pre-scientific understanding of the world, whether indigenous or religious, needs to be given consideration, or rather, critical consideration, drawing out what is of value in that world view and its practices in agriculture, fishing etc.

If we consider the peoples of Britain in the Middle Ages as indigenous, we could assess their beliefs and practices, whether of farming or medicine. Some were excellent like crop rotation, others not so good. As a result beavers, bears and wolves were hunted to extinction since 1066, and the auroch in the late Bronze Age.  Some rugged cattle still have auroch genes. That does not look good for all traditional (indigenous) practices. As for medical practices….  Consider this from India in the 1940s. A labourer got severe acid burns in a munitions factory near Mumbai, so he went home and applied the traditional (indigenous?) treatment  – Cow Dung. It was not very effective and some time later it fell to my mother, as a volunteer nurse, to clean up the mess. I’ll leave that to your imagination. We heard that story several times and my mother was never fazed by our childhood injuries! Moving to Central America the indigenous culture of the Aztecs would make a fruitful study. It forms part of today’s Mexican culture. Prior to the coming of Spaniards,  the Aztecs had an excellent agricultural system but other practices would not be acceptable today. Guess which!

One field Maoris and all Polynesians were brilliant at was oceanic navigation. They could put information on maps but not writing. David  Abulafia in the first two chapters of The Boundless Sea discussses the gradual colonisation of uninhabited Pacific islands from the west.  The navigational skills needed were incredible and he gives a brief account on pages 16-9.

Undoubtedly indigenous understandings are strong on tacit knowledge rather than scientific knowledge, but that does not put them on an equal footing with science. Most indigenous belief systems are essentially mythological. If they, and in NZ Matauaranga, have a place in science teaching, then so do Creationism, alchemy and astrology. I am not dismissive of either alchemy or early attempts of flood geology as attempts to understand geology and chemistry 500 years ago, but both were rejected as wrong. As a historian of geology I have great respect for James Ussher and the “flood geologists” of the 17th century, but see them as totally superceded.

Atheist scientists like Jerry Coyne or Richard Dawkins are having a field day on this  and in many ways they are justified. It does provide ammunition fro their particular atheistic world view.

What about it?

The first thing to say is that totally undermines the nature of science as a useful way of knowing, which gives closer and closer approximations of truth. Science has given some many benefits as well in  technology, medicine and agriculture, despite misuse by some.

It is difficult not to see a creeping Post-modernism here, which ultimately removes any truth content from anything. Of course it fits in with some progressive ideas, especially in university settings and soon gets the charge, not entirely unfounded, of wokeism.

It cannot be denied that indigenous populations have been treated badly in countries like NZ, Australia, Canada, USA and South Africa and that colonialism has a blemished record. Each country needs to address this, but will fail to do so by simplistic efforts on decolonialism and over-valuing indigenous knowledge as equal to science.

Indigenous cultures must be valued and religious views respected but not at the cost of reducing science teaching and practice to myth.

The arguments against teaching any indigenous belief and practice are the same as the arguments against teaching Creationism, in any shape or form, as having no scientific validity

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Peter Carrell, bishop of Christchurch in south island New Zealand, replied very constructively at length to my blog. With his permission I repeat them here. He is much more informed locally than I am. Please read them in conjunction my blog.

1. Maori understand that to defeat the pandemic they need to be vaccinated. They recognise that global science lies behind understanding of the virus and therefore of the vaccine required to defeat it. Matauranga expands to incorporate new learning.

2. Matauranga is a whole body of knowledge, both understanding the spirituality of nature (e.g. references to gods of forest, sea, earth and sky), the nature of spirituality (e.g. traditional religious beliefs, the Christian Scriptures, the relationship between Christian belief &

2. (Cont’d) those traditional beliefs. As well as engagement with nature (e.g. the science of navigation which brought Polynesian sailors from further north to Aotearoa, likely preceded by careful observation of bird flight and sea currents; science of food and healing re plants)

3. (As I understand it) Matauranga as a body of knowledge also refers to a wholistic understanding of human life as Maori (e.g. in offering medical care) seek to fuse global science, local (Maori) science, Maori culture and spirituality, to treat the whole person. From this view:

4. Maori (and supporters) are arguing for Pakeha/Westerners to respect this different way of both knowing and applying knowledge, not least so that Maori are treated well in our society and respond with engagement in education and embrace of opportunities in skills training.

I see the 7 scientists as making an important point, but possibly failing to understand what Matauranga means and why its teaching might edify Maori, indeed all Kiwis. I also see a group of academics (opposing them) as failing to engage in proper debate of ideas. It is chilling

Last in series) that our varsities (& Royal Soc) might be suppressing debate rather than encouraging it. In the long run I cannot see anyone, Maori or Pakeha, being well served by preventing discourse & debate about matters fundamental to human life, experience and understanding

For further reading see the following.

A recent 28/12/21 NZ news item

https://www.newsroom.co.nz/royal-society-investigation-into-matauranga-maori-letter-sparks-academic-debate?utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook&fbclid=IwAR37X1rBBJptt95KmArkynId6GOxH6arrKygzeFwa6sZxIMNlvrXGL-5AG4#Echobox=1640631025

The first two by Jerry Coyne are more hostile.

https://whyevolutionistrue.com/2021/12/03/ways-of-knowing-new-zealand-pushes-to-have-indigenous-knowledge-mythology-taught-on-parity-with-modern-science-in-science-class/?fbclid=IwAR2nhDDZfxlzCjEebuNRYkSc2XRiotBMiSpVoXbwPz91dU-06DCq22NcWmc

https://whyevolutionistrue.com/2021/12/08/maori-ways-of-knowing-to-be-taught-as-science-in-nz-universities/?fbclid=IwAR06FwJt3NQsQub7lUBwxCJzgUIW_1cIsTypiYFwTqlmvMBzyp9Ahg28nJA

https://www.sciencelearn.org.nz/resources/2545-matauranga-maori-and-science

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C4%81tauranga_M%C4%81ori

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/earth-and-planetary-sciences/indigenous-knowledge

How do you measure (geological) time? (according to Creationists)

Learn More About the Is Genesis History? Bible Study Set

So asks a recent blog of “Is Genesis History?”

They seem to think that geologists in the early 19th century just made it all up from their fantastical imaginations!!

That is not quite true as I show, but first a family diversion.

When our daughter was about 6 or 7 she took some rocks and put labels on them with enormous numbers – 436740 years , 736400 years etc. All were less than a million. Sadly, many like Mr Snelling do not have as an advanced understanding as she had then!!

I found this short blog absolutely face-palming as it made almost as many serious errors as words! It is amazing, and very concerning, that anyone with more than a 6 year olds understanding could get so much wrong.

Yet “Is Genesis History?” has qualified geologists producing their material and one has to ask why it is so wrong, as well as pointing out where it is wrong. Today we hear much of Unconscious Bias, but this seems worse than Conscious Bias.

https://isgenesishistory.com/5-measure-time/?fbclid=IwAR13z2BSgB3mmkOnq0pWnq9Hk8LpyBGh0Pd6QDrGOIA1sZYXgt6XY-bv-AU

Here it is in full

“The Bible would say that the past is the key to the present.” – Andrew Snelling, Geologist at SP Crater & Sedona, Arizona

If the Bible presents a concise timeline of history, where does the idea of millions of years come from?

Geologists like Charles Lyell wanted to replace the history recorded in Genesis with a naturalistic history of their own construction. They started with the idea of long ages, then interpreted the rocks in light of their new paradigm.

Today, geologists rely on measuring radioisotope decay and interpret its results in terms of the conventional paradigm. Yet anomalies in these dating methods question their conclusions. Instead, one can look at geological formations to see evidence of a young earth transformed by a global catastrophe: the flat and enormous extent of sedimentary layers; a lack of deep and widespread erosion between most layers; and evidence that sediment was rapidly deposited by huge amounts of water.

Learn more about radioisotope dating and flood geology in

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“The Bible would say that the past is the key to the present.” – Andrew Snelling, Geologist at SP Crater & Sedona, Arizona

Simply empty affirmation . Where does the Bible say it? It is meaningless.

Geologists like Charles Lyell wanted to replace the history recorded in Genesis with a naturalistic history of their own construction. They started with the idea of long ages, then interpreted the rocks in light of their new paradigm.

This is simply a gross misrepresentation about how “long ages” came into being. Not one geologist started “with the idea of long ages”. Consider how “long ages” developed;

Up to the mid-17th century almost all scholars from Columbus to Ussher thought that the earth was a few thousand years old, with Ussher giving his famous date of 4004BC.

Jacobus_ussher

This made great sense at the time but was undermined within a few decades.

The journey began in the 1660s, when Nils Steno (later a Catholic bishop who got beatified) was studying fossils and strata in Italy and worked out the Principle of Superposition. He was rather undecided on the age of the strata. But he had made a vital breakthrough.

Twenty years later Edward Lhwyd and Rev John Ray

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spent much time botanising in Snowdonia. Lhwyd was struck by the number of boulders in Nant Peris. As only one had fallen in living memory, he tentatively concluded that the hundreds of boulders must have fallen at intervals of several decades, meaning that Ussher’s age of 4004BC needed to be revised upwards. After all 500×50 =25,000. A wee advance on Ussher! In fact, they were glacial erratics dumped almost together some 20,000 years ago, so Lhwyd was wrong! Even so, it was an interesting idea showing a questioning mind.

Others reckoned the earth must be older too as did Hooke and Hobbes (see my Genesis and Geological time p41)

Genesis 1 & geological time from 1600-1850

Going into the 18th century more and more studied the rocks throughout Europe and almost all concluded that the earth was old. Less geological was Buffon who in his Epoques of 1778 argued from cooling globes the earth had to be at least 74,000 years old, but privately argued for millions. If you want more read Martin Rudwick’s Earth’s Deep History or Gabriel Gohau Les sciences de la terre aux XVII et XXVIII siecles.

Few continued with a young earth after Scheuzer, apart from the English Hutchinsonians, followers of John Hutchinson (1674-1737). One was Alexander Catcott whose Treatise of the Deluge (1768) is the oldest book I own. It’s a mix of biblical theology, speculations about the ark ( which included 2 camelopards and quoting Bishop Willkins “1825 sheep… for the rapacious beasts” ) and some good geomorphological observations.

By the end of the 18th century few scientists/savants did not accept Deep Time and the Irishman Richard Kirwan was one of the handful who didn’t. Even J.A. de Luc, who is often presented as a young earther, believed in an ancient earth, but not as ancient as Hutton’s!

In the last decades of the 18th century Hutton just took the standard view of an ancient earth along with a galaxy of workers all round Europe –Rev J  Michell, Fr. Soulavie, de Saussure (of Mt Blanc fame), De Luc, Werner and others in almost every country, but an Anglocentric approach, which only considers Hutton and Lyell, misses that.

Hutton is NOT the father of Deep Time, but one of many very able scientists, who worked on deep time.

james-hutton-caracitureAngular Unconformity at Siccar Point, Scotland. Siccar Point, Scotland (Photo: Wikipedia “Hutton’s Unconformity”)

James Hutton and Siccar Point

We also need to note that from 1660 Christians, especially clergy, were involved in the discovery of geological time. In 1785 the Rev William Robertson, Moderator of the Scottish Kirk, was totally supportive of Hutton and reckoned that nothing in Hutton’s  work was “in any respect repugnant to the Mosaic account of creation.” And for the last 235 years most Christian ministers, evangelical or not, have agreed with Robertson, from Billy Graham to John Stott, loads of Popes and Archbishops and those in local churches.

By 1800 few geological savants denied “long ages”. The geologist William Smith

200px-william_smith_geologist      William Smith's A Delineation of the Strata of England and Wales with part of Scotland (1815)

William Smith and his map of 1815

was persuaded out of a young earth by several local vicars, notably Benjamin Richardson and Joseph Townsend. Townsend, an evangelical, published a major work in 1813, but his prowess was soon overtaken by several other Church of England clergymen, John Henslow, William Conybeare, William Buckland and Adam Sedgwick, who made great contributions to the Geological Column, especially from the Cambrian to Carboniferous. Buckland introduced the concept of an Ice Age to Britain

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Henslow and his exquisite map of Anglesey 1823

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William Buckland checking for ice and hyenas!!

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 Sedgwick wanting to get back to the field

As they were in their prime a young Scot and pupil of Buckland began his geologising, but disagreed with the catastrophic “long ages” ideas, especially of his friend Conybeare and in 1831 published the first volume of his Principles of Geology. By the time Lyell began geology almost all geologists were convinced of the evidences for “long ages”. Here we’ll be told of the Scriptural Geologists expounded by Terry Mortensen. Despite Mortensen’s claims only one, George Young, carried out any field geology  (in Yorkshire) and was criticised for rejecting geological time.

Lyell was very much a johnny-come-lately , and neither he nor anyone else “started with the idea of long ages”. That is blatantly false. By the time Lyell picked up his hammer, geologists had slowly been finding evidence for “long ages”. Lyell continued and found even more evidence!!

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   Lyell looking principled  BucklandArchiveCauseEffect002

Many geologists didn’t like Lyell’s uniformitarianism in 1831 and so De La Beche painted a watercolour of why Buckland’s son could not make a big valley by having a pee.

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 Tow others having a pee with no more success

To claim that “Geologists like Charles Lyell wanted to replace the history recorded in Genesis with a naturalistic history of their own construction.” is also a falsehood and without evidence. It is not true of Lyell, nor any other geologist, except George Young. Lyell was very critical of those like Young who tried to squeeze a “history” of the earth from Genesis. Here he was almost entirely in agreement with all the clerical geologists like Buckland.

This is a blatant misrepresentation which has no basis in history. I would have thought Dr Snelling would have known that it was wrong. Or perhaps not.

Today, geologists rely on measuring radioisotope decay and interpret its results in terms of the conventional paradigm.

It is so much easier, and briefer, to make a statement like this, which is devoid of truth than to refute it. Yes, radiometric age dating is used, but its results are weighed up, with and against the older geology and assessed with care

Yet anomalies in these dating methods question their conclusions.

What anomalies does the writer mean? This statement simply gets readers to be suspicious and thus dismiss all geological dating. It does not seem to be in the spirit of the Ninth Commandment. Over the years I have come across many alleged anomalies and when I have been able to check them I ALWAYS found them to be false accusations.

A classic example is the paper “Radiometric Dating Reappraised” by John Woodmorappe which originally appeared in the Creation Research Society Quarterly (Volume 16, September 1979. It lists some 800 anomalies and some 40 years ago I went through and checked about a hundred. None were anomalies and all were misrepresented. Sadly I didn’t record my findings but here is a short account of some whoppers.

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/woodmorappe-geochronology.html

Again the Ninth is pushed to one side!!

And so at the end of a short article replete with dissimulation there is a triumphant conclusion

Instead, one can look at geological formations to see evidence of a young earth transformed by a global catastrophe: the flat and enormous extent of sedimentary layers; a lack of deep and widespread erosion between most layers; and evidence that sediment was rapidly deposited by huge amounts of water.

What can anyone say to that?

jesusfacepalm

October 23, 4004: The Creation of the World

Happy Birthday Earth according to Archbishop Ussher.

Jacobus_ussher

For his time Ussher was good as he was a fine scholar and according to Martin Rudwick introduced a proper historical understanding.

He published a decade before Steno and others began to understanding the geology and then time, so he seems out of touch.

Fewer followed him on time than we are led to believe

This book chapter of mine puts Ussher in a longer contexthttps://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2021/01/28/genesis-chapter-1-and-geological-time-from-grotius-to-thomas-chalmers-1620-1825/

Enjoy this short article , except for the last comment on scotch farmer!!!

Source: October 23, 4004: The Creation of the World

The Howgill Fells, Vikings, Sheep and geomorphology

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Last year I was asked to review  An Excursion Guide to the Geomorphology of the Howgill Fells Paperback  by Adrian Harvey for the Yorkshire Geological Society. The Howgills are more or less in Yorkshire but this was more geomorphology than geology.   

22 Jun. 2017, Adrian Harvey, Paperback: 128 pages. £14.99

Publisher: Dunedin Academic Press; Illustrated edition (22 Jun. 2017)

Language: English ISBN-10: 1780460708 ISBN-13: 978-1780460703

Apart from Ordovician in the Rawthey Valley and the Dent Fault, the Howgill Fells are not a magnet for geology fieldtrips. There are even some Ordovician glacial sediments. They could be described as a series of parallel whalebacks of Silurian slate with few outcrops and draped with post-glacial soliflucted sludge which occasionally overlies glacial till! Rock exposures are rare. This guidebook to the recent geomorphology by Andrew Harvey, emeritus professor of geomorphology at Liverpool, could make you change your mind.

The focus of this excursion guide is on the Postglacial geomorphology of the Howgills, as before that a static ice sheet could not do much geomorphology! They have neither the more dramatic geomorphology of the Lakes or the Dales, but geomorphology they have, and Harvey brings it to life. The book is in two parts. Part one deals with the general geomorphology and part two on the excursions.

The introduction is a general overview with a brief summary of the geology, and a mention of glaciation which is limited to the cwm above Cautley Spout and probable cwms west of the M6 south of Tebay. That much will be familiar to most geologists. The next two chapters are on what has happened and is happening since the glaciers retreated. When I say “what is happening” I mean that as Harvey has been visiting the Howgills for half a century, we are introduced to changes he observed. I found this fascinating and enlightening.

Chap 2, Holocene Landform Evolution deals with the sequence of events during the last 10,000 years. This began with the thawing of permafrost which resulted slope instability and the solifluction of reworked glacial till or head, which resulted in the fells being draped with reworked till. Much later were waves of hillslope gullying, which give the Howgills their characteristic aspect today. There was a major wave in the 10th century when Norsemen were rearing sheep. This slowed a century later due to William’s Harrying of the North, with a resurgence then a respite during the Black Death. This was a fascinating tying in of geomorphology to human history. Reflecting on this in the field should lead to good questions on the effect of us humans on the environment. Less historically, but more geomorphologically, he deals with gully structures and alluvial fans. A section on vegetation describes how, from pollen data, the fells were wooded or partially wooded before the Roman invasion.  Gully formation was favoured by extreme wet conditions and human activity, especially sheep rearing. In the last few years Belted Galloway cattle have been introduced on the northern hills to remedy the damage done by sheep .

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Chap 3 The modern Geomorphic System deals with the more recent erosional activities. Here Harvey uses his nearly half a century of field work in the Howgills to great effect. All the active gullys are identified and some given special attention, often giving a sequence of events, with photos, of the last 50 years. Carlingill and Grains Gill’s Gullys get pride of place. As well as that he describes the extreme events of July 1982 and December 2015, Both events reactivated gully erosion, affected the rivers and changed gully to channel coupling effects. The maps and photos make the events very clear.

Part Two is on the field sites. First is a reconnaissance road trip round the Howgills to bring out the salient features. It is the only trip which can be carried out by car, preferably by bike. The route of some 40 to 50 miles gives a fine overview and locates the stopping places.

Secondly, the main part are lengthy trips into the heart of the Howgills along various valleys. To the west are Grain’s Gill and Carlingill. To the north are Langdale, Bowderdale and Weasdale and to the south Cautley, the Gills above Sedbergh and Chapel Beck. I followed the routes on Carlingill, Bowderdale and Cautley. Harvey’s routes are detailed and easy to follow, but involve crossing rivers without bridges and the top of Carlingill by the Spout is serious. They are not for the faint-hearted but are magnificent routes in remote areas.

Carlingill

Carlingill is the highlight of all the excursions and is on tough terrain. I confess I went right up to the spout in Carlingill and had a challenge getting out of it!

P1040131Grain’s Gills Gullys from the fan near the confluence with Carlingill

There is a little parking by Carlingill Bridge, where can find the track. On either side are the lovely bog plants Butterwort, bog asphodel (flowering in July) and Sundew. The track on the left side going up Carlingill is never very visible but the lower parts are fairly easy but may require crossing the gill which could be full. The complexities of erosion of  Grains Gill is fascinating and some will divert for a close look. After that the gill rises slowly  with various gullies and erosion of different ages on either side.

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Once you go past Green Knott Gill the path either gets better or worse, depending who you are! The gill narrows and the path becomes more indistinct.  There is also a steep drop in to the gill for the unwary.

At the confluence with Little Uigill Beck the gill narrows and neither alternative is easy. 

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Continuing up Carlingill becomes more and more challenging and the spout is a dead end unless you are partial to hairy scrambling. I happen to be past it. the spout is dramatic, but was spoilt by some alternative religionist tying bits of plastic onto a tree.  I presume they thought it very green to leave such rubbish, which no better than balloons which descend on the fells. I am sure some will say I’m religiously intolerant. Maybe, but I don’t like litter of any form.

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Reaching the point below the “prayer” tree I was faced with a trilemma. The safest and most boring route was to retrace my steps. Or I could scramble up the side of the waterfall, which I would have done thirty years ago. Anyway I had lunch and then climbed up the very steep grass sloe to the right of the stream as you can see in the next photo. I am not sure of the wisdom of going up steep grass on all fours!! 

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Carlingill Spout and alluvial fan at Blakethwaite from Knowles. The gorge below the spout is difficult to escape from by climbing with a choice of rock or very steep grass!!

Once I got to the stop of the steep slope I gave a sigh of relief and then went more gently upwards (to the right in the photo) up Uigill Rigg to the top of Breaks Head 628m and then followed the track to the northwest along the ridge, looking down on Carlingill. It was an excellent walk full of geomorphological interest. It is not for the fainthearted.

Harvey’s description of the gullys, alluvial fans etc in each of these is very clear and informative.

Bowderdale

The route up Bowderdale is easier – if you can keep your feet dry – but the various gullys and fans are expounded in clarity and detail. I parked the car by Potts near Scar Sikes and followed the track over to Bowderdale. As i dropped down to Bowderdale the track got soggy and I was treated to sundew. I pointed them out to some walkers, who had never seen them before. 

Going up the Dale was fairly easy and Harvey’s guide pointed out many features, including the floods of 1982, where he had the advantage of seeing the area before and after the flood. His comments brought much of the scenery alive to me in a way I’d missed so often in the past.

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Greencomb Gully and the fan from the 1982 flood

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Hazel Gill with the more vegetated fan for the 1982 flood.

When i reached Hazel Gill I’d intended to go up randygill Top but felt lazy and walked back down the valley fording the river, which was very low, and then back to the car.

Cautley Spout

The route to Cautley Spout and beyond is one of my favourite hil lwalks, where I once saw a Brocken spectre.

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Harvey gives safety warnings!! I suppose these are necessary from the number ill-equipped walkers on the hills. the walk from the Temperance Inn  past the Spout and then one of the several routes to The Calf  676m or 2217ft is not the most difficult but can be fun for navigation in mist! The river capture at the col to Bowderdale is explained. It is an open question whether the cirque at Cautley Crags is due to the Loch Lomond advance or is earlier. Whether or not you stop at the foot of the Spout, you are treated to a range of geomorphology from glacial cirques to later solifluction.  This is a gem of a place which can be tailored to the group’s ability and agility. By stopping near the foot of the Spout enables one to see most of the salient features of Howgill’s geomorphology in one visit. Much more can be seen if one continues to the top of Cautley Crags. I love the path which is steep and airy in places. 

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If geomorphology is your only interest there is no need to go further but walking on the edge of Cautley Crags to Great Dummacks is delightful, unless there is a strong wind.

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Or take the more direct route up the Gill becks to the Calf, passing old sheepfolds and “houses” en route. 

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View from the bridge of the Rawthey of the Cautley glacial cwm, Cautley spout is to the right.

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View from top of Cautley Crags looking down Bowderdale. The steep line of trees shows the route of the Cautley

You can return from the Calf following a good path to Bowderdale and then cutting off on a diminutive tack to Bowderdale Head. A steep descent and then meandering through glacial deposits leads you back to the Inn, where you can buy some well-deserved orange squash. shortly before the footbridge you should finds some Butterwort and Sundew by going off the path.

The best two excursions are to Carlingmill and Cautley, and Harvey succeeds in making the geomorphology come alive.

This excursion guide has distilled half a century of field work in the Howgills and has made it accessible for those, like me, with an indifferent grasp of Holocene geomorphology. The maps, photos and descriptions are very clear and make you ask with Thomas Huxley, “why didn’t I think of that?” This guide is a model of what a geo-excursion guide ought to be.

Often the Howgill fells are seen as dreary and can be likened to half a dozen dead whales lying side by side, with one having its mouth open at Cautley Spout. Above are three routes I did which are variations on Harvey’s detailed routes.

As well as expounding the geomorphology of today Harvey also considered what it was in the past. It  was so different then and going back 1500 years or more it was far more wooded than it is now. trees have been in decline here for 2000 years, as in the Lakes and Dales and are due to two mammals. These are sheep and humans.

The serious deforestation began with the Vikings, who, when they were not pillaging, were tending sheep on the fells. By nibbling every green shoot down to ground, the sheep prevented the regrowth of any tree or shrub and got rid of most flowers. It’s same story in the Dales . Lakes and Wales, but fortunately Belties, or Belted Galloways, are replacing the sheep and doing excellent conservation work. It is not often you can eat conservation workers. And so until 1066  deforestation and erosion were going hand in hand, or rather, mouth by mouth.

One of the good things William the Conqueror did was to slow this process down for a while by sending his henchmen to the desolate north to harrow it – known as the “Harrowing of the North”.

 But when the harrowing stopped shepherding resumed and so did the erosion until the bacterium yersinia pestis arrived and caused the Black Death, thus stooping the raising of sheep again. Soon things recovered and the sheep continued their destructive geomorphological work up to the present day.

The Howgills are not the best place for wildlife and flowers are not numerous, but are there if you know where to look.

More recently, as with the rest of the high ground in northern England restoration has begun and we shall, hopefully, see more trees and their attendant wildlife.

 Meanwhile the Howgills are fantastic place to explore and relatively few people visit. If you go I hope essay and Harvey’s book bring it to life for you. If you want more then use the OS 1:25,000 OL19 and from that you’ll get a gist of my routes!

this is an expansion of a review I did for the Yorkshire Geological Society

Is “Is Genesis History?” History? The Hutton-Lyell Myth

“Is Genesis History” is a relatively new Creationist project attempting to give solid reasons for believing that Creation took place 6 to 10,000 years ago and not the billions years of science. They have recruited leading “creation” experts and scientists to give substance to the material.

isgenesishistory

The videos and blogs are well-produced  and seemingly coherent and reliable. One key aspect is to claim that until about 1800 all Christians believed in a young earth. At first sight that seems very plausible as geology is usually reckoned to have started with Hutton in about 1790.

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Just consider this video by Prof Ian Stewart.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00wkc23

or better

https://youtu.be/FYfuI2uZLmg

However Stewart’s claims about the bible are more assertion than based on evidence. Further Hutton was by no means the founder of geology as that started a century earleir.  This chimes in with the popular view that all were happy with a young earth until the geologists came along. This comes out in popular treatments of science, and even by competent scientists.

This video comes out with same story https://learninglink.oup.com/access/content/prothero-earth1e-student-resources/prothero-earth1e-see-for-yourself-james-hutton?previousFilter=tag_chapter-01

Both “Is Genesis History?” and popular views of science regurgitate forms of the now  debunked Conflict Thesis of science and religion. Many scholars have been debunking it for over half a century and thus there is no excuse to regurgitate it. The blog cashes in on old popular views of conflict and comes out with what may be termed the Hutton-Lyell myth, whereby they are presented as the first and leading voices for a vast age of the earth and sought to deliberately undermine Genesis. That simply ain’t true.

By doing this they ignore

  1. earth history only began to be understood in 17th century
  2. By 1700 many “geological” savants realised earth was older than what Ussher proposed
  3. Before 1650 it was reasonable to assume young earth as it was also reasonable to accept geocentrism – and not to know about the circulation of the blood or the metamorphosis of caterpillars into butterflies!
  4. Biblical interpretations were more fluid in the 1800 years before Hutton than some claim!
  5. From 1600 there were essentially 3 main interpretations namely  – a 6/24 hour creation, gap theory  (or rather chaos restitution) , and day-age.  All were rather vague on the time involved. But then the geologists were vague on time too!

This is the second of five posts dealing with the question of ‘The Age of the Earth and the Bible.’ It is taken from the Is Genesis History? Bible Study available in our store. Read the first post here.

Learn More About the Is Genesis History? Bible Study Set

https://isgenesishistory.com/does-the-bible-speak-to-the-age-of-the-earth/

Adding up the Genealogies

Starting in the first century A.D. and continuing to the present, most interpreters examined the genealogies in the Bible and said they can be used to calculate the age of the earth.

There is some truth to this but it is very sweeping. You could also say that until well into the 17th century biblical interpreters also held the sun to go round the sun and thus the trials of Galileo and all that. As there was no hard evidence that the earth was ancient until about 1700 (yes, 1700 not 1800) it’s not surprising that theologians didn’t think the earth was ancient before then. More on this as we go along.

The first genealogy used this way is in Genesis 5. It reports the age of Adam when he fathered his son Seth, then the age of Seth when he fathered his son Enosh, and so on down to Noah who is said to have been 600 at the start of the Flood. If one sees Genesis 1 as a record of six normal days, and the genealogies as relationships without gaps, then it appears one can calculate the time from Creation to the Flood.

The next genealogy using the same pattern is in Genesis 11. Noah’s son Shem is said to have fathered Arpachshad two years after the Flood. The names and ages continue through Terah, the father of Abram, thereby providing a way to calculate the time between the Flood and Abraham’s birth.

There is no consideration on what the genealogies are and whether they are even complete. B B Warfield’s classic 1911 paper is worth a read https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/On_the_Antiquity_and_the_Unity_of_the_Human_Race

From Abraham forward, it is not as simple a process. There are no longer linear genealogies like the ones in Genesis 5 and 11 listing the father’s age at his son’s birth, so one must track down references to ages at significant events, cross-compare, then calculate together. This process takes one from Abraham to David; from David through the kings of Judah to the Exile; and from the Exile to Jesus’ day.

Once this Biblical timeline is established, specific people and events are seen to intersect with other calendars in the ancient world. These can then be matched to an ‘absolute’ astronomical calendar to determine an approximate age for the earth. For instance, the Jewish historian Josephus, writing around 94 A.D., used this process to calculate the age of the earth as approximately 5500 years from the date of his writing in the first century A.D.

Other men in the early church calculated similar ranges, with estimates provided by Cyprian, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexander, Julius Africanus, Hippolytus, Lactantius, Chrysostom, and Augustine. All of them put the creation of the world as less than 6000 years old from the date of their writing (with many approximating it at 5500 BC).

Prior to the 19th century, almost every significant Biblical commentator thought the Bible spoke to the age of the earth in a definitive way.

This is very sweeping and ignores the changes in interpretation after 1600 and more so after 1660, when Steno began his geological work. There was further extra-biblical evidence whether on geology, geography i.e. existence of Americas and Australasia only came in for Old World scholars  after 1492 with the age of exploration, along with new understandings of astronomy – and every aspect of science.

I have dealt with this in a book chapter, though it deserves a book in itself; Genesis Chapter 1 and geological time from Hugo Grotius and Marin Mersenne to William Conybeare and Thomas Chalmers (1620 – 1825) Read it here sp273-39

To summarise most commentators in the 16th century, both Roman and Protestant, took Genesis very literally, tending to a 6/24 day scenario. This was due to the influence of the Reformations on all churches almost making them take the bible more literally and avoid any allegorical meanings. Some theologians, RC and Protestant, adopted a chaos-restitution interpretation (a more erudite form of the later gap theory). In the early 17th century this is found in the massive commentary on genesis by the mathematician- priest Mersenne. It is the biggest book I have ever handled!! These writers argued that god first created chaos and after a period of time reordered it in 6 days. This linked in with Greek and Latin writers like Hesiod. The period of chaos could either be long or short and for Ussher it was only half a day!

My chapter shows how writers, Roman or protestant, held these views, chaos-restitution,  a day age or a 6/24 creation week, with a reticent on the age of the earth. Few of those who held the third argued against those who did not.

If I had to give numbers, I would suggest that most accepted chaos-restitution and thus extended Ussher’s timetable. This continued through Bishop Patrick and the Theeories of the Earth of the late 17 th century and into the 18th, before the hammers proved an ancient earth.

By 1770 many theologians were convinced that the earth was old, due to findings og geological savants since Steno. I come to Hutton later!

The period 1600-1800 marked a change in understanding the history of the earth as slowly evidence came in demonstrating an ancient earth. Many biblical commentators and theologians discussed these, though some did not. As evidence poured in for the vast age of the earth, many theologians took that into account .

These systems of dating continued through the medieval church and persisted up to the 17th century with the well-known calculation of Archbishop Ussher in England. Like other Protestants, Ussher used the Hebrew ‘Masoretic text’ used by Jewish scribes, a text somewhat different than the older Greek ‘Septuagint’ used in the churches of the first century. This choice resulted in him shrinking the timeline of the world by 1500 years and placing the date of creation at 4004 BC.

Ussher did not make great use of genealogies and his date of 4004 Bc for creation was not based on them.

Jacobus_ussher

He, like others at that time, thought the earth would exist for 6 days of 1000 years; 4 before Jesus and 2 afterwards, making creation at 4000BC and the consummation in  2000AD. However from extra-biblical materials he realised Jesus was born in about 4 BC thus Creation was in 4000 + 4 = 4004BC. He deffo got the date of the consummation wrong at that should have happened in 1996! 1996 undermines Ussher as nothing else does!! Against that Ussher was a very fine scholar who only had the material available in 1656. Judged by 1656 his scholarship was immense and Rudwick argues that he gave us a sense of history AND geological history, thus beginning a revolution in history.

Why the difference in age? The Hebrew text of Genesis 5 and 11 often lists younger ages for fathers at their sons’ births in comparison to the Greek text. For instance, in the Greek Septuagint Adam is 230 years old when he has Seth. In the later Hebrew Masoretic text, however, he is 130 years old. The difference in ages adds up to a variation of approximately 1500 years. But where did this difference come from?

Although a complex and controversial topic, it is thought by some that a group of Jews living during the second century AD in Palestine intentionally adjusted some of the numbers in Genesis 5 and 11 in order to keep early Christians from using the age of the earth to calculate Jesus’ arrival as the fulfillment of a messianic prophecy. By subtracting approximately 1500 years from the history of the earth, Jesus would have been born too early to fit into the messianic window.[1]

Today, modern creation scientists and scholars are divided as to whether to accept the longer ages in the older Greek text or the shorter ages in the more recent Hebrew text. The former group places the age of the earth at 7500 years old; the latter at 6000 years old, often still relying on the work of Archbishop Ussher.

All other Christians do not use the genealogies in anyway to calculate the age of the earth

Ussher, of course, was just one of many scholars living during his day who, although disagreeing on specifics, ultimately agreed that the age of the earth was less than 10,000 years old. The point is that prior to the 19th century, almost every significant Biblical commentator thought the Bible spoke to the age of the earth in a definitive way.[2]

Not so as argued earlier. It would be fair to say that before 1660 (Steno) most held to a young earth, but undogmatically, but by 1800 the vast majority accepted an ancient earth, and this was for Evangelicals and Roman catholics too.

The Opinions of the New Geologists

In the early 19th century, however, the new sciences of geology and paleontology began to exert an influence on interpretations of Genesis.[3]James Hutton, George Cuvier, Charles Lyell, and others argued that the history of the earth was much older than 10,000 years; they based this view on their new interpretations of the rock layers and the fossils within them.[4]

It became obvious that the traditional view and the new view could not both be accurate since they provided two competing histories of the earth.

The major flaw is that the writer considers the “New Geologists” to have started with Hutton in about 1770, whereas geology had a long history going  back to 1660, and was already influential by 1700. Hutton, Cuvier and Lyell were not the only “New Geologists” but three of a large number from all over Europe who researched from 1770. To find out more read the mammoth tomes of Rudwick Bursting the Limits of Time  and Worlds before Adam. Some were Christian like J. A.  de Luc, Townsend, Soulavie, and the Anglican clergy like Buckland, the Conybeares and Sedgwick from 1810.

In the 1780s when Hutton was preparing his Theory of the Earth he wrote a preface in July 1785 arguing that his views were consistent with Christian revelation. He also argued that each Day of Genesis was of indefinite length

Hutton theory

Hutton sent the draft to the Rev William Robertson, Moderator of the Church of Sctoland and Principal of Edinburgh University. Note that Robert Darwin, father of Charles went to Edinburgh in 1783. Robertson de-drafted Hutton’s preface and here is part of it.

huttonmod1huttonmod2

Thus, we see that, by 1785 church leaders were accepting of a long geological time scale, and right at the heart of the so-called conflict. Robertson was not changing his views to placate Hutton’s geology, but re-iterating old understandings going back a century of more.

There are many more examples both in Scotland and England. In 1802 Thomas Chalmers furthered this with his exposition of a “Gap Theory”. He had been a student at Edinburgh in the 1790s .

It was similar in England with the Evangelical vicar of Pewsey, Joseph Townsend, one of William Smith’s advisors,

200px-william_smith_geologist

arguing in a similar vein in his 1813 The Character of Moses established for veracity as a Historian. Despite its title this work was a good summary of recent geology AND demonstrated its conformity with the Gospel.

By 1800 the evidence of these so-called “New Geologists” was over-whelming  and only a few rear-guard scholars opposed it. However several theologians like Thomas Scott simply ignored geological findings.

As a typical Englishman I shall leapfrog over Cuvier as I prefer rosbif and go to Lyell – who was a scot thus a haggis-eater rather than liking roast beef! At Oxford Lyell

180px-charles_lyell

studied geology under Rev William Buckland

Bucklandglacier

and probably imbibed his views of an ancient earth from him and other geologists, many of whom were clergy. Significant as Lyell became as a geologist after 1830, he had no effect on encourage people to accept an ancient earth. Those who say he did either suffer from a conscious or unconscious bias or are lying.

I hope that with a few well-aimed guided missiles I’ve demolished this re-iteration of the Hutton-Lyell myth which is totally false and has no historical substance to it.Yet it is repeated time and time again by Creationists and the semi-heducated.

Many more as any historical account of geology would show eg Rudwick

This is an important observation: it was not simply a matter of differences in timescale, but of differences in events happening during those timescales. Everyone understood the implications of the profound change in age. In the new view of geology, the earth had a “deep history” with a series of events occurring in it that were radically different than the events recorded in special revelation.

As I demonstrated earlier this New view of Geology  goes back to 1660s with Steno and then others in Britain. It was not NEW.

Although non-Christians had already assigned Genesis to the realm of myth, these differences created a major issue for Christians: how did the history in Genesis fit with the new history of the earth? And what did it mean for the doctrines of revelation and creation?

One answer was to question the geological findings themselves. This was done by a series of “scriptural geologists” with limited success, a history that Terry Mortenson documents in his book The Great Turning Point.

The so-called Scriptural Geologists had virtually no grasp of geology and risible even by the standards of the 1830s. Here is my summary of them

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2020/01/06/creationists-in-the-19th-century/

The other answer was to change one’s interpretation of Genesis.

New Ways to Interpret an Old Text

As a result, the 19th century saw the introduction of a number of new interpretationsthat attempted to synthesize Genesis 1 with a much longer period of time.[5] One was the ‘gap’ view which argued there was an indefinitely long period of time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.

They should be less partisan and more accurate here and actually note that the so-called new interpretations of Genesis in the early 19th century were minor modifications of older ones. This I argued earlier.

Another idea was the ‘day-age’ view which said each ‘day’ in Genesis 1 was actually a long period of time. There was much discussion as to just how long a period of time, as well as which events each ‘day’ symbolized, but, in the end, this view provided a symbolic or allegorical function that could be shifted as needed to match changing scientific views.

The result of these interpretations was that, for those who held them, it no longer became possible to determine the age of the earth from the Bible. Instead, it was the role of geologists to determine the age of the earth. This meant that geologists became the new historians of the earth, removing from the Bible the ultimate authority concerning the actual history of creation.

Oh for some accuracy here!! Most had not determined the age of the earth from the bible at least from 1700 as geological evidence came to light.

Some commentators and pastors argued this was an incorrect way of interpreting Genesis 1; they said these views were neither in the history of interpretation nor in the text itself.

They should have said who so that their case would have some substance.

n spite of this, it became more and more popular to interpret Genesis in light of the seemingly indisputable claims of many geologists that the earth was far older than 10,000 years. For some, it was an easy concession because it seemed to maintain the historical integrity of Adam and Eve as well as the rest of the Biblical text.

Due to their many historical howlers their case can be dismissed

The one nagging problem was the fossil record.

Yes it was a nagging problem for young earthers but no one else. This final comment is a vacuous rhetorical flourish evading the falsity of their arguments.

Perhaps their grasp of the science of geology and evolution is better than their history of science.

[1] For more details, see Henry B. Smith, Jr. “MT, SP, or LXX: Deciphering a Chronological and Textual Conundrum in Genesis 5,” Bible and Spade 31.1 (2018), 18-27.

[2] Terry Morteson, The Great Turning Point (Master Books, 2012) 44-45.

[3] Nigel M. de S. Cameron, Evolution and the Authority of the Bible (The Paternoster Press, 1983) 72.

[4] Martin Rudwick, Earth’s Deep History (The University of Chicago, 2014) 99,110.

[5] Mortenson, 33,35.

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To read; M Rudwick as in their references
D Young and Stearley. The Bible, rocks and Time
2876
Michael Roberts Evangelicals and Science (chapters available on my blog ; here is chap3 in biblical interpretation https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2020/11/27/a-history-of-evangelicals-and-science-part-3-of-12/

Bishop Spong meets Charles Darwin

On 12th September the controversial Bishop Spong died at the age of 89. I’d known of him for decades and in the 80s he helped at a wedding at a Welsh church where the vicar was a very conservative evangelical, which gave us a smile.

As someone who is fairly conservative and orthodox I have never been partial to Spong with his extreme liberal views almost throwing out every item of the Christian faith for a progressive faith. He is a person whom people either loved or loathed. Spong raises many issues and especially the absurdities of extreme fundamentalism, but throws the baby out with the bathwater. I will not give a general assessment of him but focus on one issue.

Bishop John Shelby Spong in an undated photo. He used a combination of celebrity and tireless writing and speaking to open up the Episcopal Church.

That issue is his understanding of Charles Darwin and the effect of his science on the Christian faith. Way back in the 1990s he explained some of the reasons why he rejected “orthodoxy” and much hinged on Darwin. He claimed that until 1859 all Christians believed in a literal Genesis and then with The Origin of Species Darwin torpedoed that making it totally untenable.

Probably most people would agree with Spong on that and it has been the received view among most who consider themselves educated. In his book and TV series of the 1980s The Sea of Faith Don Cupitt came out with same arguments. Many thought it wonderful, but his history had a bit to be desired! A similar view comes out in older church histories and among writers of popular science, including Richard Dawkins.

I never kept the article where I read Spong’s views on Darwin but at some lectures in 2018 he repeated the same line. These were lectures he gave at the Chautauqua Institution and reported in The Chautauquan Daily – their official newspaper.

“On Tuesday in the Hall of Philosophy, Spong explained how Darwinian and Christian values came to divide the Christian faith in his lecture titled, “The Assault of Charles Darwin and Why the Christian Church Retreated before Darwin.” Spong continued Week One’s interfaith theme, “Producing a Living Faith Today?”

Here is what the report said of his lecture, when he dealt with Darwin. It all sounds so familiar

http://chqdaily.com/2018/06/spong-dialogue-between-darwinism-christianity-critical/

One of the scientists who pushed the status quo was Charles Darwin, who Spong called the second “obsession of the church.”

Darwin began his work in 1831 when he got a job as a naturalist on a five-year survey voyage around the world on the HMS Beagle. It took him 25 years after the trip, but Darwin claimed his place in history when he released the Origin of Species.

The book sold out immediately and raised questions that had previously been debated, but were never analyzed from a perspective like Darwin’s. Christians did not welcome these findings with open arms, Spong said.

“The war was on,” Spong said. “Darwin was now an enemy to the Bible, as the Bible was interpreted literally, and he was an enemy to the church in the way (Darwinism was) interpreted theologically.”

In an attempt to set the record straight, a debate took place in 1860 between Thomas Huxley, a biologist and an avid defender of Darwin’s, and Samuel Wilberforce, the bishop of Oxford and an advocate of biblical literalism. Wilberforce resorted to ridicule and at one point asked Huxley which side of his family was descended from apes. Wilberforce won the debate, but Spong said it was not enough to earn him a lasting legacy.

“Sam Wilberforce was hailed as a hero, but what’s interesting is that heroes don’t last forever,” he said. “He was very popular in his lifetime, but his reputation has faded.”

After the debate, Darwin’s theories made their way into the bloodstream of western civilization. At first, evolution was taught in small, private settings, but as it began to gain momentum in 1910, the Christian Church decided to tackle the issue head on.

A group of Presbyterian divines proposed a series of pamphlets on the fundamentals of the Christian faith. Once the project received funding, more than 500,000 were sent out each week. As time went on, the pamphlets became more popular, and by the 1920s, every church in the world was divided over being classified as fundamental or modernist.

“You can’t force truth into popularity,” Spong said. “Darwin seemed to have the truth, and after a while, these fundamentals of the Christian faith did not seem fundamentalistic after all.”

The Presbyterian leaders published five fundamentals all Christians were required to believe in order to identify as Christian. Among them were the ideas that the Scriptures are the infallible word of God and human beings are created perfect but fell into sin. Spong said those fundamentals were too similar to the myths of the religion to survive.

“They were so absurd, no one in the academic world would give them credibility,” he said.

The problem facing modernists, on the other hand, was that they knew too much to be fundamentalists, but did not know how to be Christian, Spong said.

“That is reflected in the world today,” he said. “The major mainline Christian churches are all in a frantic of political decline. The fundamentalistic churches are strong, but they are also declining. The world is catching up, and fundamentalism is not a viable option any longer.”

The fall of these ideals caused a rise in Darwin’s ideals. At that time in history, there was no longer a medical school in the western world without a foundation built upon Darwinian principles, and hardly a science department in the United States that was not embracing evolution. That was until the public school system implemented “creation science,” Spong said, designed to be a fair alternative to Darwinism. Although creation science is not taught in public schools anymore, Spong reminded the audience it was not that long ago that former President George W. Bush endorsed it.

“Bush wanted people to be fair, to have a chance to voice an opinion,” Spong said. “He thought you could decide by majority vote what truth is. It doesn’t work that way.”

After Bush’s endorsement, the U.S. Supreme Court declared creation science unconstitutional.

“By virtue of its own strength and integrity, Darwin became stronger and stronger,” Spong said. “There is hardly an educated person in the western world who does not accept Darwin’s point of view as truth.”

Spong asked why Christians fought so hard when they knew they were wrong. The answer, once again, was Darwin.

“There was something about Darwin that challenged not just the Christian story, but the way in which we told that story,” he said. “Darwin said there was ‘no perfect creation,’ but the church said we were ‘created perfect and then all fell into sin.’ You can’t fall into sin if you are not perfect to start with.”

Spong acknowledged how difficult it can be to accept the similarities humans have with the apes, but in a time where millennials check “none” for their chosen denomination more than the rest of the other options combined, he believes the dialogue has to continue between Darwinism and Christianity in order for the faith to survive.

“I think we have a wonderful faith,” he said. “Not the only faith, but a wonderful faith. And we have to work hard to make it live in our generation, and I think we can.”

[Clearly this is an account of what Spong said and not his actual words. However from what I’d previously read what Spong himself wrote on Darwin, it seems to be an accurate and trustworthy account. Thus as I have no reason to doubt its authenticity I shall treat as Spong’s views of 2018, which are similar to those he held two decades earlier.]

On the surface this seems reasonable and historically accurate both with regards to Darwin’s life and work and the effect on the Christian church.

But it is not!

As he started in 1831 he could have mentioned that Darwin receieved the letter inviting him to join the Beagle after a few weeks geologising in Wales with the Reverend Professor Adam Sedgwick of Cambridge. BRESSAN_2013_Geologizing_-Darwin_Map1

Darwin’s Welsh visit of 1831 More here https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2020/07/03/just-before-the-beagle-darwin-in-wales-1831/  

300px-Adam_Sedgwick

Rev Adam Sedgwick, father of the Cambrian system. Susan Darwin had a crush on him.

Sedgwick was one of the great Anglican clergy-geologists. He was one of the most significant geologists to elucidate the Lower Palaeozoic and Devonian from 1831-1845. But, horror of horrors, he was also an evangelical. Now what was an evangelical doing as a professor of geology and doing fundamental work. Like most evangelicals of his day i.e. before 1859, he had no problems with geological time and did not see it as destroying his faith. He was very scathing about those who rejected geology and tried to insist on a literal Genesis. Here deal with some of his spats, which are quite funny too.

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2018/02/03/how-to-deal-with-victorian-creationists-and-win/

It’s a pity Spong did not know about Sedgwick and his many Christian geologists! And so he dug a bigger hole;

“The war was on,” Spong said. “Darwin was now an enemy to the Bible, as the Bible was interpreted literally, and he was an enemy to the church in the way (Darwinism was) interpreted theologically.”

My question to Spong is simple. Who in the churches interpreted the Bible literally? For 40 years I have tried to find some examples and beyond slave-holders in the Southern States and other nuts, I am still wandering around in the wilderness looking for one.

Quite simply, virtually no Christians with a modicum of education in the 1860s took Genesis 1 literally and denied geological time. I think that is slam dunk against Spong. I’ll now go slam dunker and gently point out that Samuel Wilberforce was not a biblical literalist.

1869_Wilberforce_A504_001

Bishop soapy Sam Wilberforce

He was a competent amateur scientist and while at Oriel College , Oxford in the 1820s he went to William Buckland’s geology lectures for three years running. (The attendance records are in the Oxford museum. From my brief study of it, he was the only one who went every year.)

anning

Buckland checking out glacial Striae at Rhyd Ddu in Snowdonia 1842. Buckland introduced ideas of an Ice Age to Britain

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Rev William Buckland giving a geological lecture at Oxford

His review of the Origin in the Quarterly Review is competent scientifically and is similar to what most scientists would have written in 1860. Wilberforce was no literalist and no fool, but was a rather soapy bishop! Spong could have mentioned Christians who accepted Darwin from 1859 including the evangelical Rev H B Tristram, Charles Kinsgley and others. Read this for the British scene from 1859

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/evolution-and-religion-in-britain-from-1859-to-2013/

Spong next dealt with The Fundamentals of 1910 “At first, evolution was taught in small, private settings, but as it began to gain momentum in 1910, the Christian Church decided to tackle the issue head on. A group of Presbyterian divines proposed a series of pamphlets on the fundamentals of the Christian faith.” Really! Head on? Many may know the series of brown paperback booklets called The Fundamentals. So much for taking Darwin/Evolution head on. One or two articles did, but most which dealt with Darwin or Genesis at least accepted geological time and in the case of James Orr, evolution as well. Spong simply had not doen his homework and was woefully inaccurate. So much for saying, “They were so absurd, no one in the academic world would give them credibility,” In fact many had academic credibility from competent conservative scholars, but some were not. Spong cannot have studied the background or content of these leaflets. If anyone was absurd it was Spong!

He continued “Darwin said there was ‘no perfect creation,’ but the church said we were ‘created perfect and then all fell into sin.” When did the church say that? Some fundamentalists did, and still do, say that but they are not the church but just a small part!

He ought to have known that humans ARE apes, and thus have similarities with all the other apes. A lack of biological knowledge here.

So what should we say about Spong’s encounter with Darwin?

Most obvious is that he has adopted a popular and extreme form of the Conflict Thesis of science and religion and out- whites White. To claim that the church was literalist in 1859 is simply completely and utterly false. Just to take the Anglican church, the vast majority of clergy had accepted geological time, and thus a non-literal Genesis way before 1859. In fact a higher proportion of Church of England clergy in 2021 are literalist than in 1860.

The best that can be said is that his confirmation bias to buttress his understanding of Christianity is to assume what he claims. This is simply not scholarly and is a very shoddy way of presenting an argument. Sadly others like Don Cupitt have done the same but he did (mis)quite contemporary authors! I agree with Spong on how awful Young Earth Creationism is in every way, but we need to ensure that what he say about others is accurate. He does not.

In 1998 Spong nailed his 12 Theses to the internet and Rowan Williams dismembered the lot with simplicity and clarity.

https://anglicanecumenicalsociety.wordpress.com/2010/06/10/bishop-spong-and-archbishop-williamss-response/

Williams exposes the shoddiness and wrongness of all his arguments both theological and ethical. I don’t need to repeat Rowan’s arguments.

On the positive side Spong is good at raising questions and especially those which come as a result of being swept up in fundamentalism. But he is not so good at understanding and tilts at the non-existent strawmen of ultra-fundamentalism and includes all the mainline orthodox in his tilting. His dealings with Darwin are just that. His ideas may resonate with those escaping from fundamentalism, but for the rest of us (who often have serious questions about our faith) he provides nothing of merit and an easy target for a hatchet job.

What Bishop Spong gives is not a new and progressive Christianity for a the 21st Century but an incoherent and muddled rejection of the faith. Sadly some would disagree with me and Rowan Williams!!

Hugh Miller and Me: Geology and Scripture Reconciled

Hugh Miller was a fascinating guy – geologist and evangelical.

Here Alex Staton, another 19th Century throwback of a geologist and clergyman (there are not many of us) writes about his life

This is good stuff and rock solid!!

Unconformable Views

I had promised myself (and you!) that I wasn’t going to allow myself to be drawn into interminable debates about the Bible and geology. There are two reasons for this. The first is that these kinds of debates go round in circles. They are frequently accompanied by a great deal of nastiness. The second reason is that there is no debate. We know that the earth is unimaginably old and that evolution is true(1). It doesn’t matter that some claim the Bible insists otherwise(2).

My reason for turning to geology and the Bible now is that I have been reading the excellent Hugh Miller, the Cromarty Stonemason. For those that may not know, here is a brief biography of the man.

Hugh Miller (1802-1856). Painting by William Bonnar (1800 – 1863). Inverness Museum and Art Gallery. Highland Council.

Hugh Miller was born in Cromarty in October…

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