Tag Archives: geology

Answers in Genesis’ Deceptive Video on Radiometric Dating

Many get fed up with Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis continually misrepresented normal science. Poor Ken , he has a thing about “billions of years” and resorts to porkies to reject them. This is a good summary of why his recent porkies are pure Ham.

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I don’t know why he does it

Answers in Genesis’ Deceptive Video on Radiometric Dating

Answers in Genesis now has a “Check this Out” feature where they tackle a scientific claim which argues for an old earth and try to debunk it.  Recently, much to my dismay, one of the home school teachers sent out a link to one of these videos on radiometric dating.  Aside from the mistakes inherent in the video, itself, it betrays a deep misunderstanding of how science works.  Here is the short video.

We will take this bit by bit.

  • 0:28 – the narrator states that most scientists regard the age of the earth as between 4.55 and 4.6 and then remarks that, if this is so accurate, why the 50 million year discrepancy?  He then states “That seems like a lot.”  50 million divided by 4.55 billion is 1.09%.  That is the standard error. This date range is made up of thousands of individual dates. The speedometer on your car is less accurate than that (standard error of 2.5%).  In fact, in any statistical test a 1% standard error is considered is equivalent to saying that you are 99% confident that the results you have are accurate. 1% is not a lot of anything. Also carefully omitted from the narrative is that these dates are derived from at least five different kinds of radiometric isochron dating:
    • Lead-Lead isochron
    • Samnium-Neodymium isochron
    • Rubidium-Strontium isochron
    • Rhenium-Osmium isochron and
    • Argon-Argon isochron.

All of these dating methods have different decay states, decay rates and half lives and yet all give dates to within 1% error

  • 1:52 – After a reasonably straightforward description of radiometric dating, the narrator then, while admitting that it is true that a decay rate can be measured using “observational science,” it requires “historical science” to tell how old the rock actually is. He states that in order to get accurate measures from rocks, one would have to know both the decay rate and the initial conditions of the rock, otherwise we cannot directly measure the ages of rocks.  He asks “how do we know what the initial conditions were in the rock sample?”  and “How do we know the amounts of parent or daughter elements haven’t been altered by other process in the past?” and How does someone know the decay rate has remained constant in the past?”   He then says “They don’t.” This is false.
  • Timothy Heaton, Chair of the Department of Earth Sciences & Physics at South Dakota State University writes this about the parent/daughter ratios:

    Isochron dating bypasses the necessity of knowing the quantity of initial daughter product in the rock by not using that value in the computation. Instead of using the initial quantity of daughter isotope, the ratio of daughter isotope compared to another isotope of the same element (which is not the product of any decay process) is used as the comparison for isochron dating. The plot of the ratios of the number of atoms of the parent isotope to the number of atoms in the non-daughter isotope compared to the number of atoms of the daughter isotope to the non-daughter isotope should result in a straight line that intersects the vertical y-axis (which is the ratio of daughter to non-daughter isotopes). This point of intersection gives the initial ratio of daughter to non-daughter isotopes, which would also be the ratio in a mineral that crystallized without any parent isotope present.

    Here is a web site that shows how this plot works in graphic fashion. The narrator’s  hourglass analogy is, therefore, inaccurate.  We don’t need to know how much sand was in the hourglass to begin with, nor did we need to observe the process.  The decay rate is well-known and invariate, which leads to his second statement.

  • As far as the variation in decay rates of radiogenic isotopes goes, they have been shown to vary only  0.1% in response to outside influences (here, and here) and have been shown to vary significantly only under extreme laboratory conditions not found on earth.

As noted above, buried deep in this video and others that Answers in Genesis puts out is a particular philosophical bent that sees “observational science” as real science and “historical science” as not. Ken Ham is often quoted as rejecting historical science by rhetorically asking “Were you there?”  In other words, we cannot know historical processes because we did not observe them.  Consequently, when the narrator of this video says “we don’t” in answer to how we can know how some of our assumptions about radiometric dating are correct, it is this philosophical bent in action.

Such a perspective is facile, as it completely disregards the fact that we reconstruct past events every day at all levels, from the simple act of encountering a broken glass on the floor with ice and water beside it (someone dropped a glass of water) to complex murder investigations in which no one but the murderer was present.  No one questions the validity of these assumptions and they form the basis for much of what we do in life, including our entire criminal justice system.

Secondary to this notion that we can reconstruct the past is that the processes that occur today also occurred in the past.  If I am digging in a field and encounter, at a depth of three or so feet, a series of horizontal metal beams that are four and a half feet apart with ties in between them, because I know that distance is the standard railway gauge, I can reasonably assume that what I have uncovered is part of an old railway.  Was I there when they built it?  No, but I didn’t have to be to have a pretty good idea of what it is.

This is true not just of human constructs but also of natural formations.  Because we have modern floods, hurricanes, meteorite craters and so on, we can identify these formations in the past.
This puts historical science and all of its reconstructive observational power on level footing with observational science.  While Ken Ham and others at Answers in Genesis might say otherwise, it simply is not so.

It is amazing how much damage to scientific and academic integrity one can do in a three-minute video.  Answers in Genesis is, apparently, up to the task.

Was there really warfare between Science and Christianity?

Was there really warfare between Science and Christianity?

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The classic TV portrayal of conflict between science and religion is the reconstruction of the Huxley-Wilberforce encounter shown in the last episode of the 1970s series the Voyage of the Beagle. Wilberforce is portrayed as a scientific ignoramus and Huxley as a cool scientific orator. In many places it is assumed that Orthodox Christianity means accepting creation in six days and any departure from that is a shift in a liberal direction. This is the stock in trade of many treatments pitting science against Christianity

 

Geology and Genesis, 1790 to 1860

To put it simplistically Geology took off as a science in the 1790s under Hutton in Scotland, Smith in England and Cuvier and Brogniart in France when conclusive evidence was found for ordering strata and showing a vast age of the earth. Hutton’s chief spokesman was the Rev John Playfair and Smith’s the Revs B.Richardson and J.Townshend. Most educated people accepted the new findings and even the church press showed little opposition. From 1810 there was much geological fieldwork and in 1815 Smith produced the first geological map of England and Wales.

 

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Hutton and Smith

Geologists came from various backgrounds with a considerable number of clergy, often Evangelical. The 1820s was the heyday of clerical catastrophic geology of Buckland and Sedgwick, who held that strata were deposited over a long period of time (millions of years) in a succession of catastrophes or deluges, the Noachian being the last.

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Sedgwick and Lyell

In his Principles of Geology (1830) Lyell took over their methods and timescale and replaced catastrophism with uniformitarianism. Lyell has become a mythic figure with claims that he introduced notions of an ancient earth. That is bunk and has been discredited by such historians as Rudwick and Gould. As the vast of age of the earth was widely known in 1790 it cannot be the case as Lyell was born in 1797, unless miracles can happen!

Not all was smooth sailing and from the mid-twenties a vocal group, the Anti- or Scriptural Geologists, tried to show that geologists were mistaken and that Creation took place in 6 days. This disparate group included clergy and laity with a Dean of York, an Oxford Professor and Brande, Faraday’s colleague at the Royal Institution. Scientifically their writings were worthless by the standards of the day and were attacked by such orthodox Christians as Conybeare, Buckland, Sedgwick, Sumner and Pye Smith. Lyell mocked from the sidelines. To give an idea of numbers, during this period I can name at least six Deans of Cathedrals, a dozen Bishops and half a dozen clerical Oxbridge professors, who actively supported geology. In the period 1825-1850 the vast majority of Christians accepted geology, but a small and noisy minority did not. It is vital to get it in proportion. Andrew White in History of the warfare of science and theology claimed that the Anti-geologists were the Orthodox Party thus distorting our understanding.

By the 1850s the Anti-geologists were a spent force and even such an extreme Evangelical as J.Cumming accepted geology. Almost the only exception was Phillip Gosse in Omphalos (1857)

 

The Dawn of Evolution 1859

Charles Darwin

The Origin of Species was the seminal work of the decade and attracted great interest. The popular perception is that it was violently objected to by the Christian Church as it “questioned both the literal accuracy of the first chapters of Genesis and the argument from design for the existence of God”. The first part of this quote from Altholz is simply untrue as no educated Christians believed in 4004 BC in 1860, except a few Plymouth Brethren. Design in the strict Paleyan sense may have been killed by Darwin, but many kept to some kind of Design; Kingsley, Gray, Temple, Birks, and Hensleigh and Julia Wedgwood (Darwin’s Cousins). The main religious concern was whether our apedom would destroy our morality as Wilberforce made clear.

The responses to Darwin are fascinating and varied and no simple answer can be given. Initially some scientists were in favour – Huxley and Hooker, some not sure – Lyell, and many against, notably the leading physicists and geologists. Of Anglican and Scottish Presbyterian clergy (some of considerable scientific ability) none were literalists, and of 30 or so responses I have studied they are equally divided between being for, against or undecided. All 30 accepted geological findings and a scientific outlook. Wilberforce’s objections were largely geological, but felt our apedom would destroy Christianity. The evangelical Canon H.B. Tristram of Durham was a migratory bird and a competent ornithologist. He accepted and applied natural selection to birds in 1858, after reading Darwin’s Linnean Society paper. He went to Oxford in 1860 an evolutionist but after hearing Wilberforce and Hooker (Huxley spoke too quietly to be heard) he changed his mind. A year or so later he became an evolutionist again and used creation and evolution as synonymous.

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Wilberforce and Huxley

Well. was there conflict? There was not CONFLICT, but there was conflict. The reviews and the meeting at Oxford show that there was controversy both religious and scientific. The only example of ecclesiastical prejudice I can find is the sacking of Prof Buchman of Cirencester Agricultural College, whose evolutionary ideas offended the Anglican management. By 1866 even the Victoria Institute were tolerating evolution, even if some members objected. Within two decades most educated Christians accepted some kind of evolution, even if, like Wallace, limited evolution to non-humans.

 

Whence Conflict between Science and Religion?

The idea that there has been a serious conflict is widely held but recent studies have challenged this,whether they focus narrowly on Huxley and Wilberforce or look more widely. The conclusion by Lindberg and Numbers, Gould, Brooke and Russell is that the conflict thesis comes from a reading back into events by some of the protagonists of the 19th century. Huxley and Hooker embellished their controversies with the church, Edmund Gosse in Father and Son made his father to be typical of Christians,  Andrew White’s massive The Warfare of Science with Theology (1896) is so flawed as to be worthless, despite its massive documentation which often cannot be followed up, Darwin’s claims that at Cambridge he did not “doubt the strict and literal truth of every word in the Bible” are not true, Leslie Stephen’s concerns with the historicity of the Ark has been shown by Sir Owen Chadwick to be the product of a lively imagination and many evangelicals had come to Colenso’s conclusions about Noah some 30 years before 1860. Most of these examples are referred to in serious works of history but a little historical research refutes them. This does raise a few questions on Altholz’s assertion that for Huxley and others “Truthfulness had replaced belief as the ultimate standard.”

The conflict thesis in its classic form needs to be consigned to the bin, BUT there is an opposite danger – the total denial of any conflict whatever and the claim that there was harmony. That is as erroneous. The other danger is to ignore popular perception as this did and still does reckon there is a conflict.

To conclude, there was some conflict, which has various causes; the wish of some scientists to break away from church involvement, the concerns of some that evolution may eliminate God. There was also conflict of re-adjustment. But it is best seen as “a storm in a Victorian tea-cup” exaggerated for polemical purposes.

Finally there was no serious battle of Genesis and Geology, but a few Christians objected to geology. By 1860 biblical literalism was virtually extinct but was revived in the USA in 1961 in the form of Creationism. Neither was there a battle royal over evolution. In 1860 hardly any educated people were still literalists. Until this is firmly grasped it is impossible to assess the relationship of Christianity and Science and to consider exactly what were – and are – the problems.

The ultimate problem is why there is suffering and evil, but I’ll leave that.

 

References;

J.H. Brooke, Science and Religion, some historical perspectives, Cambridge, 1991,

M.B.Roberts, Darwin’s Doubts about Design, Science and Christian Belief, 1997, vol9, p113-26

S.J.Gould, try historical essays in his various Penguins which are always well-argued

Brooke and Cantor, Reconstructing Nature, T&T Clark, 1998

Marston,P and Forster, G. Science, Reason and Faith, Monarch 1999

Numbers, R, Darwinism comes to America, 1998, Harvard Univ Press

Roberts, Michael Evangelicals and Science Greenwood 2008

and two useful books

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for more see the websites of http://biologos.org/  www.asa3.org   http://www.faraday.st-edmunds.cam.ac.uk/

 

Man but a worm

 

 

 

THE ORIGIN OF DARWIN AS A NATURALIST 1809-1831

HE ORIGIN OF DARWIN AS A NATURALIST

 

Darwin concluded The Origin of Species with this magnificent paragraph;

It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with Reproduction; inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the external conditions of life, and from use and disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less-improved forms. Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

 

This makes me think of the narrow country roads in Shropshire, which were sunken by cart traffic over hundreds of years leaving high banks on either side. These banks became entangled with plants (hawthorn, brambles, hazel, campanula, primroses, snowdrops etc.) and colonised by various animals (insects, butterflies, lizards, rabbits, polecats etc) and host to birds.

The entangled bank was an integrated ecological web.

As Darwin rode round these lanes on his horse Dobbin, whether en route to his girlfriend, Fanny, or to shoot, he would have passed many entangled banks and observed the wildlife. From so small a beginning of a teenage horse rider and amateur naturalist came the most profound of scientific theories.

The Skills Darwin learnt before sailing on the Beagle

Outdoor skills from hunting and shooting and exploring.

Navigation, use of maps

Travelling through rough country, which still can be dangerous.

A wide range of naturalists skills, observation of plants and animals, habitats, specimen collection and preservation.

A good basic geology.

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This is why when he boarded the Beagle in December 1831 he was one of the most proficient young naturalists of his day.

 

The influences on Darwin. (1809-1882)

He was born at The Mount on 12 th February 1809

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and went to Shrewsbury School under Dr Butlet but was taught little but Greek and Latin and no science

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His father was a doctor with a good knowledge of science (and less on dietetics) and his grandfather, Erasmus, even more so. So from home he learnt much.

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His older brother, Erasmus, built a very good chemistry lab in a shed

 

He collected eggs etc from an early age.

He was keen on hunting thus observed the behaviour of foxes and birds.

From his late teens he collected beetles by the thousand!

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1825-27. He studied at Edinburgh for medicine and also learnt some geology and also marine invertebrates from Robert Grant

1827-1831. He studied theology and philosophy at Christ’s College, Cambridge and intended to get ordained. There was no official science teaching but John Henslow gave unofficial classes and field trips.

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1824-30 He did much naturalising around Shropshire and visited North Wales most years either to Snowdonia itself or to Barmouth. He climbed most of the mountains

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He went on great hikes and observed all he saw on the wildlife and a little on the rocks. His favourites were beetles, but also fungi and birds (which he shot to collect specimens)

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His favourite mountain was Cadair Idris and he shot birds for specimens at Bird Rock

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He explored the rugged Rhinogau with epic hikes and explored the Mawddach estuary

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He stayed at Barmouth supposedly being tutored in the binomial theorem but preferred other things!

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He left Cambridge in June 1831 and as he was planning an expedition to Tenerife he did geology around Shrewsbury and in July 1831 tried to make a geological map and visited the limestone hill of Llanymynech.

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The last of the four photos is from Nesscliff where he studied a Permo-Trias outcrop. The view is of the volcanic Breidden Hills and to the left is Long Mountain which is capped by Old red Sandstone. Darwin and Sedgwick got within a mile of an exposure but turned back, thus making Sedgwick miss a vital exposure.

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The Sedgwick–Darwin Tour 3 to 20 August 1831

I present this more fully here

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To the West of Shrewsbury 3-4 August

Shrewsbury to Denbigh, 5 to 7 August

Alone to Conwy, 8 to 9 August

Conwy to Bethesda, 10 to 11 August

To Anglesey and Dublin? 12 to 20 August

Separate Ways, 20 August

Caernarvon to Barmouth via Cwm Idwal 20-24th August

This map shows the route

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They both had a copy of Greenhough’s map. They new that the Orange rock in the south was Old Red sandstone (later Devonian) and it was younger than the older strata (later Cambrian, Ordovician and Silurian) which he wanted to study. The aim was to find the ORS and then older rocks below it. Murchison who went to South Wales was guided to the contact by Rev Thomas Lewis and sorted it all out. Sedgwick’s aim was to follow the arc of ORS (orange rocks) along the North Wales coast and Llangollen and then find the older rocks below. That determined Sedgwick’s route  and his pupil Darwin just tagged along. as it turned out Sedgwick just missed ORS at Long mountain while at Shrewsbury  and then discovered there was no ORS in North Wales so he lost his stratigraphic marker! So when he started on 21st August 1831 on his own, he bagan in Llanberis which was not the best place to start, but that is another story.

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They travelled by gig with a driver. this picture is of one of Dr Robert Darwin’s patients -Mad Jack Mytton who though affluent died in a debtors jail.

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In August 1831 Adam Sedgwick (geology professor at Cambridge) came to Shrewsbury after looking at strata in DudleyBRESSAN_2013_Geologizing_-Darwin_Map1

 

and after a few days of geologising near the town they travelled to North Wales by gig (2 –wheeled carriage pulled by a horse) trying to work out what strata there were below the Devonian.Their first stop was up Castell Dinas Bran (silurian) and then to the Carboniferous Limestone of the Eglwsyeg cliffs. There is a fault between the two hills and no Devonian.

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Next day they drove to Ruthin and looked first at Silurian strata by Vallee Crucis abbey, which shows the difference between bedding and cleavage.

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On to the top of the Horseshoe pass (my first big hill on a cycle) looking over to the grey limestone cliffs. The road was built in the 1810s to service the slate quarry

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Glancing over to Snowdonia behind the sheep they descended to Dafarn Dowarch, then made out of turf. Sedgwick stayed here in the 1840s.

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Past some limestone then descended to the complex Clywd basin of the Vale of Clwyd going past more Transition/silurian slate. This windy road is Nant y Garth, which I once cycled up in a thunderstorm doing field work for this. That was memorable.

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Darwin walked the last 6 miles to Ruthin where they stayed at the Castle Hotel.

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At Lanfwrog to the west Darwin found some red sandstone lying topographically  below Carboniferous Limestone 50 yards away. In fact, it was New Red Sandstone, not Old Red/Devonian which had been downthrown to the east. Alas there was no basin analysis to help them!!

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And then down some lovely lanes which would have been muddy! they visited the Ogof caves and found some rhino fossils – teeth.

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They took the road west of St Asaph and near Glascoed Darwin was dropped off to do a 20 mile traverse and Sedgwick carried straight on to Conwy.

Darwin’s brief was to find ORS below the Carboniferous and above the Silurian/Transition. The second photo is taken a few miles west looking north towards Abergele. The hills are Carb limestone and and the foreground is Silurian. Darwin must have been miffed not to find any ORS.

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He stayed at Abergelle and the next day walked to the Ormes and Llandudno chasing the non-existent ORS

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He left the Great Orme behind and crossed the brand-new bridge to Conwy and met Sedgwick near the castle.

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The next day, after Darwinstopped Sedgwick arguing with a waiter, they went up the Conwy valley to Cannovium and over the 2100ft Tal y Fan and dropped down to Aber for the night. They visited Aber Falls the next day and then went to the Bethesda Slate Quarries

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Here is the major problem I encountered in this study. Darwin’s notes on Cwm Idwal – 5 miles from the quarries – follw straight on from his notes on Bethesda. further in his Autobiography Darwn states he went round Cwm Idwal with Sedgwick. HE DID NOT. This is countered by the letters between D and S in September 1831 when Darwin told Sedgwick what he saw on his own and then Sedgwick corrected him after visiting Cwm Idwal a fortnight later.

Instead the went across Anglesey, as Sedgwick had Henslow’s wonderful 1822 geological map to guide him, but the ORS was still elusive and this supposed outcrop of ORS later turned out to be Ordovician. Later at Cape Verde Darwin described some recent conglomerates by the shore as hard as this. I can assure that the rock is very painful to hit with a hammer.

 

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And so the crossed the Menai Straits and shot down the newish London-Holyhead road, which had just been replaced by a dual carriageway when I visited there.

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From Holyhead they took a steam-packet to Dublin for the weekend as Sedgwick wished to meet some geologists. On their return they went to look at the precambrian rocks at north Stack and then went across Anglesey with Henslow to guide them.

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They found what Henslow’s incredibly hard ORS on which I nearly broke my arm. And so to the old Copper Mine at Parys Mountain. It dates back to the Bronze Age and I think it is still being mined

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And so they arrived at Caernarfon, when Darwin wanted to go home for the start of the shooting season. Sedgwick went to Llanberis and started in ernest and found it hard.

On his own from Caernarfon to Barmouth 20th to 24th August

Darwin left Sedgwick at Caernarfon and then visited Cwm Idwal on his own. He reckoned that the Devil’s Kitchen was a volcanic plug, but Sedgwick put him right a little later, explaining it was a syncline.

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A sketch to show what Darwin thought about Cwm Idwal and how Sedgwick corrected him.

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He found the geology difficult as I did when I tried to do my undergraduate mapping there. (I gave up and mapped a layered intrusion in Northern Canada instead!!). He was oblivious of any glacial features.  He must have found some predators – sundew.

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view of Cwm Idwal from Glyder Fawr 2000 ft above the Lake

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From Cwm Idwal it was 6 miles to Plas y Brenin, the coach inn at Capel Curig, where he spent two nights. The next day he climbed Moel Siabod and made more notes . After that he walked to Dolwyddelan and over the moors to Ffestiniog for the night. The next day he cross the Rhinogau by the the Bwlch Drws Ardudwy

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An early morning view from Plas Y Brenin

In his autobiography Darwin claimed to follow a compass bearing to Barmouth. I do not believe him! First, the route would be an utter killerwading through boulders and 3 foot heather. Secondly his geological notes describe the localities OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAi

visited and I mark these on the sketchmap.

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Moel Siabod and the moorland south of Dolwyddelan

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My key outcrop to determine his route was Carreg y Fran, which I located. Darwin said the rocks at the base of the cliff were conglomerate. They were in fact agglomerate.

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From there he cross the remote and rugged Rhinogau and made his way to Barmouth.

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After a few days at Barmouth Darwin returned home for the shooting season. Instead he accepted an invitation to travel on the Beagle

Here is Topper (1992-1994) my faithful field assistant, navigator and mountain climber, taken near the summit of Glyder Fawr.

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He took a stagecoach back to Shrewsbury and found a letter inviting him to join the Beagle!

In the summers of 1837 and 1838 he spent a few weeks while staying with his father in Shrewsbury looking at glacial deposits (c18000 years old around the town and by the field centre)

At this time he was very ill and only walked short distances.

In June 1842 he felt better and wrote the first half of a draft on evolution and went to Snowdonia and went home to finish it. It as not published.

Darwin spent two weeks in Snowdonia, staying at Plas y Brennin and other inns.

He looked for evidence of glaciation especially in Cwm Idwal and was convinced that Snowdonia used to have glaciers. He could only walk five kilometres.

But this will be my next installment

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CHARLES DARWIN AND THE HISTORY OF GEOLOGY, 1831 AND 1842 

 Along with many earlier visits to Snowdonia, the mountainous region of North Wales, in the 1820s to study natural history and to “climb every mountain”,

Darwin made two important visits to study the geology. In 1831 he spent nearly four weeks studying the geology of Shropshire and North Wales, mostly under the tutelage of Adam Sedgwick of Cambridge and then in 1842 to see whether there had been “former glaciations2 in Snowdonia. In 1831 he was a “learner” and made no contribution to geology[1], but his work on glaciations was highly significant[2].

My purpose here is to put Darwin’s two visits into the whole context of geology as a developing science. I give it in note form as a developing historical theme.

  1. 1660-1700. Earliest geology beginning with Nils Steno in Italy. Little grasp of an ancient earth
  2. 1690s E Lhwyd (born near Oswestry – 20 miles from Shrewsbury) and John Ray (the English Linnaeus) noted the boulders in Nant Peris a valley below Snowdon. As there were lots of boulders and only one or two fell down in a lifetime, they suggested that the earth must be much older that the biblical 6000 years. These were in fact glacial erratic transported there by glaciers.
  3. 1700- 1800 more evidence for an ancient earth and beginnings of working out the order of strata
  4. 1788 Rev John Michell, prof of geology at Cambridge worked out an order of strata;

Chalk                                                         Upper Cretaceous                                           120ft

Golt                                                            (Gault   Lower Cretaceous                              50ft

Sand of Bedford                                        Lower Greensand  – lwr Cret                          10-20ft

Northamptan andPortland lime                      (Jurassic)                                                        100ft

Lyas strata                                                       (Lias –Lower Jurassic)                                   100ft

Sand of Newark                                              (Triassic)                                                          30ft

Sherwood Forest pebbles and gravel              Permo-triassic sandstones                               50ft

Very fine white sand                                      uncertain

Roche Abbey and Brotherton Lime               (Permian Magnesium lst)                                100ft

Coal Strata of Yorkshire                                 Upper Carboniferous

This gives a good summary of strata from Upper Carboniferous to Upper Cretaceous

  • Smith developed this with use of fossils and then Geology map of England and Wales 1815.
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6 Cuvier worked on Cretaceous strata around Paris

  1. By 1820s strata reasonably well-known down to Old Red Sandstone/ Devonian. What lay below was totally unknown and refered to Killas. This was classically put in The Outline of the Geology of England and Wales by Conybeare and Phillips (1822)

Below are a series of geological columns and the final development for today is the right hand column. What is crystal clear is that the order has not changed since Michell made his preliminary one in 1788. After the publication in 1822 there was an immense amount of geological fieldwork all over Europe but only the British work concern us.

SELECTED CLASSIFICATIONS OF ROCK STRATA

WERNER

1790’s

WILLIAM SMITH

1799, 1812, 1815

CONYBEARE and PHILLIPS
1821-1822
DE LA BECHE

1833

LYELL

1841

HITCHCOCK

1860 US

 

1981

ALLUVIAL
VolcanicSTRATIFIED
(FLÖTZ)TRANSITIONPRIMITIVE
London Clay

Chalk

Greensand
Brick-Earth

Purbeck, Portland
Coral Rag, Cornbr.
Upper Oolite
Under Oolite
Red-ground

Magnesian Ls

Coal Measures

Mountain Ls

Red and Dunstone

Killas and Slate

Granite, Sien
Gneiss

SUPERIOR ORDER or TERTIARY
Alluvial
Diluvial
Upper Marine(Freshwater: London Clay, Plastic Clay)SUPERMEDIAL ORDER
Chalk
Chalk Marle
Green Sand
Weald
Iron Sand
Oolitic Series
Purbeck, Portland
Coral Rag, Oxford
Inferior Oolite-
Lias
New Red SandstoneMagnesian Limestone
MEDIAL ORDER
(Carboniferous)
Coal Measures
Millstone-Grit
Carboniferous or
Mountain Limestone
Old Red SandstoneSUBMEDIAL ORDERTransition LimestoneSerpentine
Sienite
Greywacke
Clay SlateINFERIOR ORDER
Granite
STRATIFIED

Modern Group

Erratic Block Gr.
Supracretaceous
Group

Cretaceous Group

Oolitic Group

Red Sandst. Gr.
Red Marl
Muschelkalk
Red Sandstone
Zechstein

Carboniferous Gr.
Coal Measures

Carboniferous Ls

Old Red Sandst

Grauwacke Group

(Inferior Strati.
Nonfossilif.)
UNSTRATIFIED
Serpentine, Trap
Granite, Volcan.

POST-PLIOCENE
RecentPost-Pliocene
TERTIARY
Newer Pliocene
Older Pliocene
Miocene
EoceneSECONDARY
CretaceousWealdonOolite or JuraLias
Trias or New Red
SandstoneMagnesian LsCarboniferous
Coal Measures
Millstone Grit
Mountain LsOld Red Standst.
or DevonianPRIMARY
FOSSILIFEROUS
SilurianCambrian
CENOZOIC
AlluviumRecent
Pleistocene
Tertiary
PlioceneMiocene
EoceneMESOZOIC
Cretaceous
Chalk
Gault
GreensandJurassic
Wealdon
OoliticLias
Triassic
PALEOZOICPermianCarboniferous
Coal Meas.
Millstone Grit
Mountain LsDevonian
Upper
Middle
LowerUpper Silurain
(9 units)Lower Silurian
(4 units)
Cambrian

AZOIC

CENOZOIC
QuaternaryRecent
Pleistocene
Tertiary
Pliocene
Miocene
Oligocene
Eocene
Paleocene
MESOZOIC
CretaceousJurassicTriassic
PALEOZOICPermianCarboniferous
PennsylvanianMississippianDevonianSilurianOrdovicianCambrian

PRECAMBRIAN

1830s. After the publication in 1822 there was an immense amount of geological fieldwork all over Europe but only the British work concern us. By 1830 British geologists had felt clear on the geology from the Old Red Sandstone to the top of the Cretaceous, but what lay above and below was still to be discovered. Lyell was instrumental in bringing order to the Tertiary, but in 1830 Sedgwick and Murchison decided to tackle what lay below the ORS in Wales, in preparation for a second volume continuing Coneybeare and Phillip’s work. They had described what lay below the ORS as SUBMEDIAL ORDER; Transition Limestone, Serpentine, Sienite,  Greywacke and  Clay Slate, indicating that it was scarcely elucidated. All this later came to be termed Cambrian, Ordovician and Silurian, but in 1830 it was simply unknown strata.
(Shrewsbury is just north of the Long Mynd on the map, and Cwm Idwal is slighty above the letter “N” of Snowdonia)

The map above is a sketch map fo the geology of North Wales marking all strata older than the Devonian, i.e. all the shaded area on the map. In 1830 the weather was so bad that neither geologist went to Wales, but both went in the Summer of 1831. Murchison went to Southern Wales about 25 miles southwest of the Longmynd and was guided to an excellent downward succession from ORS to what was to be called Silurian by the Rev Thomas Lewis. Sedgwick went to Northern Wales and his aim was to find the ORS (marked on geological maps as lying below Carboniferous Limestone from Llangollen to Conway. When he found the ORS he hoped to find it going down conformably into Killas/grauwacke (now Silurian). This did not happen and he and Darwin concluded that there was no ORS from Llangollen to Conway, thus frustrating his intentions. Ironically at over 300 metres on top of the Long Mountain between Welshpool and Shrewsbury , there is a capping of ORS/Devonian strata but Sedgwick and Darwin did not go up the steep hill in their gig, thus missing the solution to the puzzle by two miles!

In early August Sedgwick and Darwin left Shrewsbury for North Wales to  look at the base of the Carboniferous Limestone hoping to find first ORS and then “Silurian” below it. They failed as there was no ORS. After that they went round Anglesea and found that no more helpful, though they found some ORS identified by Henslow in 1822, though some of that was mis-identified and turned out to be far older.  On 20th August Darwin left Sedgwick to go home via Cwm Idwal and Barmouth.  Sedgwick started working on strata by Llanberis, but had no stratigraphic markers or fossils to guide him. After a few years he managed to make sense of the geology.  Sedgwick called all these Cambrian and Murchison called southern Wales strata Silurian. It took another 50 years to sort them out properly into Cambrian Ordovician and Silurian.

 

After leaving Sedgwick at Caernarfon, he took a coach to Cwm Idwal, not knowing anything about the geology, except that it was older than the ORS. He had no geological guides to help him, so simply made notes. Cwm Idwal is a glacial cirque carved out of Ordovician Volcanics. Darwin gave brief descriptions regarding most as “altered slate” with some resembling basalt.

He also note volcanic rocks at Devil’s Kitchen which he considered  the Volcanic rocks at Devils Kitchen to be  “Basalt protruded out of the slate” as an “inverted cone”. In fact, they were laid flat  and then gently folded into a syncline, as Sedgwick pointed out to Darwin in a later letter after .

1842 Glacier visit

In 1842 Darwin returned to Snowdonia, having travelled round the world in the Beagle. His purpose was to see whether the Glacial Theories of Agassiz and Buckland were correct. In 1838 he had been to Glen Roy and in 1838 and 1839 had looked at the gravels around Shrewsbury and concluded that “glaciers” has some influence. Initially he was wary of Agassiz’s ideas of a continental ice age and after Buckland visited Snowdonia in October 1842, when he demonstrated glaciations, Darwin went to Snowdonia for 10days in June 1842. (In fact he had half written his first manuscript[1842] on Natural Selection before he went and finished it on return.)

He confirmed the terrestrial glaciations in Snowdonia and confirmed Buckland’s identification of glacial troughs. The highlight was his visit to Cwm Idwal where he identified the remains of an icefall by Ogwen cottage, ice-scoured rocks and moraines. Most interesting are two boulders he described, now known as Darwin’s boulders. After visiting Moel Tryfan, which he realised was sea-ice he returned to Nant Peris near Llanberis and made more observations.

Darwin had confirmed that these deep valleys were not formed by rivers………

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

References.

Darwin at Llanymynech; British Journal for the History of Science, 1996, Vol 29, pp469-78

Darwin’s Dog-leg ; Archives of the History of Natural History, 1998, Vol 25, p59-73

I   coloured a map ; Archives of the History of Natural History, 2000, Vol 27,p69-79

Charles Darwin’s 1831 notes of Shropshire,Archives of the History of Natural History 2002,Vol 29 , p 27-9; co-authored  with Prof.S.Herbert (University of Maryland)

Darwin’s Welsh Geology, 1831,  Endeavour  Spring 2001, 25, p33-37

just-before-the-beagle

Charles Darwin’s 1831 notes of Shropshire,Archives of the History of Natural History 2002,Vol 29 , p 27-9; co-authored  with Prof.S.Herbert (University of Maryland)

Darwin’s Welsh Geology, 1831,  Endeavour  Spring 2001, 25, p33-37

Darwin, Buckland and the Welsh Ice Age, 1837 – 1842, accepted for publication in Proceedings of the Geological Association 2012

BucklandDarwinWalesIce

Sandra Herbert; Charles Darwin;geologist 2005

And an account of the 2018 field trip with pictures

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2018/08/10/a-field-trip-course-in-england-on-darwin-and-evolution/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Holocene never happened. Humans changed everything 11,700 years ago @NMNH

A very interesting article on how humans have changed climate and environment for the last 12000 years, i.e. basically before the end of the last Ice Age (Upper Dryas)

images

via The Holocene never happened. Humans changed everything 11,700 years ago @NMNH

Were Already Radically Transforming the Earth

A new study suggests that trying to return habitats to a non human-impacted environment might not be realistic

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/new-research-shows-late-pleistocene-humans-transforming-habitats-180959324/#h0trwq7jw6LuFRWj.99
Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12! http://bit.ly/1cGUiGv
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The idea of trying to restore things to a pristine state is not possible,” says Melinda Zeder, senior research scientist and curator of old world archaeology at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

“Humans are very much a part of nature,” Zeder says. “The ways in which we modify nature are part of a package of behaviors that we inherited from other species. Look at what beavers do, or what ants do. Manipulating the environment in a way that is favorable. Humans are the ultimate niche constructors.”

These ideas are among the conclusions resulting from years of collaboration between scientists from many different disciplines, culminating in a new research paper of which Zeder is a co-author.

The paper attempts to debunk the common perception that large-scale transformation of wild places by humans began with the industrial revolution. Zeder and her colleagues were part of a team of scientists from various fields who set out to look very closely at how human beings have transformed their habitat throughout history. Their conclusions will shock many people and likely begin a conversation among scientists and policy-makers that will continue for years.

“One of the main points was to press people dealing with modern conservation perspectives to inform them about the deep history,” says Zeder. “What we wanted to do was take the major sort of trends within our discussions and focus on these four major periods that are emblematic.”

According to the paper, those four major periods of habitat transformations by humans include the Late Pleistocene dispersal of humans nearly everywhere around the globe; the spread of agriculture beginning in the Early Holocene; the colonization of the world’s islands; and the expansion of urbanization and trade beginning in the Bronze Age.

One example offered by the paper is the transformation of land into pastures, beginning 7-8 thousand years ago in central and northern Eurasia. Forests and tall grasslands were burned. Introduced species, including the ancestors of modern cattle, thrived on the new growth. The amount of light and heat reflected back towards the sky changed with the switch from forest to to pasture, which seems to have impacted the monsoon system.

In other words, even before the invention of the wheel, humans were already having an impact on global climate change.

This reevaluation of humans’ relationship with nature was made possible in part by new technology and by combining work from different fields of study. “One of the most remarkable achievements in analytical breakthroughs that we’ve had is the pairing up of archaeological work and ancient DNA,” says Zeder. “A lot of the work that had been done [previously] was just with mitrochondrial DNA, [which can help explain] what was the ancestor of what. But there are labs now that are able to get into the functional DNA, being able to identify the genes being turned on at different points in time.”

According to Torben Rick, director and the museum’s curator of North American archaeology (Rick was not involved in the research paper which Zeder co-authored), the paper’s conclusions match closely with his own research into human exploitation of shellfish throughout history.

“We’ve definitely seen those types of impacts,” Rick says. “In California, people early on had an influence on the size of shellfish. Lots of examples of where there’s people negatively impacting the environment. Even in the Chesapeake, while it was a sustainable system [for the last 11,700 years,] that doesn’t mean that they weren’t having any impact on it.”

One of the biggest issues debated by many scientists today is the idea of the Anthropocene. The word was first used in its current sense in the 1980’s to describe the concept of a new geological epoch in which human beings have become the primary influencing factor. The Anthropocene is usually considered as an epoch that directly follows the Holocene. Some scientists place the start of the Anthropocene in the mid-20th century. Others argue for the industrial revolution around the late 18th century. Zeder has a whole other way of looking at it (she was previously co-author of another paper on the subject).

“I think that the Anthropocene and the Holocene are synonymous,” says Zeder. “Humans have been niche-constructing through their entire history.”

Most scientists would agree that the Holocene started roughly 11,700 years ago at the end of the Pleistocene. Many species of megafauna, including mammoths, mastodons and saber-toothed cats became extinct at around that time. Humans were spreading all over the Earth, having already penetrated the Americas, Australia and many islands. Soil biology was changing. Agriculture was emerging in the Fertile Crescent. The glaciers had been in retreat for a few thousand years and a warming trend was under way.

If Zeder and her colleagues are correct in their view that humans were the primary engineers of change on Earth since the late Pleistocene, then maybe there really never was a Holocene. This was the Anthropocene all along.

“I agree with it and then I also say it doesn’t matter,” Rick says. “There’s been so much conversation about when did the Anthropocene start. Did it start 200 years go with the industrial revolution? Did it start in 1945 with [the first test of a nuclear bomb]? To me, the real point is, regardless of when we say the era started, humans have been impacting their environment for tens of thousands of years. …Let’s move past when it started and move ahead to talk about what we’re going to do about it. That’s what’s so important about this paper. If we don’t understand the past, the things we did wrong and the things we did that were correct, we can’t improve what we’re doing.”

For thousands of years, humans have been altering landscapes not only through farming and hunting but also through the movement of invasive species. Some were accidental hitchhikers and others were deliberately moved around to provide food and other resources for humans. “In [the islands of] Southeast Asia,” the paper’s authors write, “humans transported a range of domesticates, as well as various species of deer, primate, civet, cuscus, wallaby, bird, shrew, rat and lizard to generate habitats more favorable to human sustenance.”

As governments and conservation organizations work to restore habitat, Zeder and the other authors encourage those organizations to look very carefully at exactly what they are restoring that habitat to. The state of an American forest in 1491 or a tundra in 1900 is not necessarily a good point to try to return to. “It is really hard to know what are invasive species and what are indigenous species,” Zeder says. “Some of what we think of as indigenous are yesterday’s invasives.”

One of the basic questions that people involved in conservation policy have to ask is a philosophical one: Is humankind a part of nature, or are we actors outside of nature? Zeder sees humans—and our tendency to transform our habitats into something more favorable to our own survival—as a part of nature. But she does not extend that to shrugging at the notion of a species becoming extinct due to human behavior.

“Then do we put ourselves in a position as a god-like creature that decides who stays and who goes?” asks Zeder. “But we aren’t god-like in terms of being omniscient and being able to decide what species matters and what doesn’t. Where it really becomes pertinent… is the idea that what we are trying to do when we conserve habitats is get back to a pristine environment, a non human-mitigated state. That isn’t a realistic approach. What we are trying to define as ‘pristine’ is human-modified. Having that understanding is a very important concept for management of environments to take into account.”

“There is this myth of something pristine in the recent past or present that we can study and work back towards,” says Rick. “That’s really a myth that there is anything pristine. We’ve always been a part of our environment. We’ve always impacted it. Pristine is not realistic. What’s the balance that we want? What environment do we want to restore?”

Most ecologists and archaeologists agree that the ecology of North America was already out of balance before Christopher Columbus first landed on Hispaniola. The reports of early European explorers and naturalists don’t represent a sustainable target for conservation. So what should we look at as a target for restoration?

“Ten thousand years ago is a good time to look at,” says Torben. “When people were part of the system and we were part of a climatic system similar to today. What we don’t want to do is set ourselves up for failure.”

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/new-research-shows-late-pleistocene-humans-transforming-habitats-180959324/#h0trwq7jw6LuFRWj.99
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Grand Canyon: Monument to an Ancient Earth

An excellent book about a wonderful place which Creationists are determined to misunderstand

Age of Rocks

Book Review
Grand Canyon: Monument to an Ancient Earth
by Carol Hill, Gregg Davidson, Tim Helble, and Wayne Ranney (editors)
(hardback from Amazon or direct from the publisher for under $30)

divider

Prelude to Catastrophe: Why this book is so needed today

When I was 16 years old, I encountered the first book I ever read about geology. It was the first step of many toward a doctorate in the discipline. To this day, I can still praise Steven Austin’s Grand Canyon: Monument to Catastrophe as a simple primer on the processes by which sedimentary rocks form. His explanations of features like cross bedding, faulting, erosion, and layering were clear, accessible, and generally accurate. Yet Austin’s book did not gain popularity for accomplishing what any introductory textbook already had. His provocative message was that the Grand Canyon was laced with fingerprints of a recent global catastrophe, as described in chapters 6-9 of the…

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David Smythe – anti-fracking geologist

 A world-class star of geological research

One of the difficulties of following fracking is working out who the experts really are amidst the clamour of competing voices. This is especially so if one has no technical expertise. Very quickly I discovered that the anti-fractivists in Lancashire looked to two experts. For the actual drilling and later for medical stuff, the expert was Mike Hill from Lytham, who was taken down a peg or two in 2015 about the time of the publication of the Medact report,  https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2015/04/03/medacts-madact-on-fracking/. This also refers to the Times report on Hill.

When I heard Tina Rothery rave about Prof David Smythe I was intrigued and several cited him at the hearings in County Hall, Preston in June 2015.

Smythe was prof of geophysics at Glasgow and left in 1998 shortly after giving evidence for friends of the Earth over the Nirex plans to deposit nuclear waste in Cumbria. (D Oldroyd; Geol Soc Memoir No25, Earth, Water, Ice and Fire, p271-288.  (This chapter is useful as it gives background on how Smythe and Haszeldine were consultants for Friends of the Earth  in the 90s.)

 

Since then he has not been employed professionally as a geologist but has given evidnece for environmental groups most notably on fracking, gaining the accolade of fractivists.

Controversy came in 2014 when the Geological society of London told him to stop using the letters C. Geol (Chartered Geologists) after his name as he had not paid his dues since 1996, nor refreshed his skills. (Thus I cannot use the letters A.M.I.M.M. as I am long lapsed.)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/energy/fracking/11005179/Scientist-who-gave-evidence-against-fracking-site-accused-of-claiming-false-qualifications.html

In June 2015 he made a deposition to the Lancs County Council hearings in County Hall, when Cuadrilla’s applications were rejected. Several fractivist speakers cited his material, even though it went against all other geologists, e.g. the CPRE speaker. Dr James Verdon blogged against his views of Lancashire geology here  http://frackland.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/professor-david-smythes-critique-of.html 

More recently Smythe has started a blog, almost aping the title of Verdon’s blog.

blog http://www.davidsmythe.org/frackland/

His blogs are relatively few but one is devoted to attacking fellow geologists  “The insolence of Office”, eching critics on fracademics.

http://www.davidsmythe.org/professional/insolence.html

It is difficult not to see this as pure vitriol against leading geologists like Riley, Rutter, Davies, Lord Oxburgh, Selley, Shipton , Styles, Verdon, Younger. I have met and discussed matters with several of these. Incidentally Lord Oxburgh was one of my geological teachers, and very good was he – and entertaining in the pub at Horton in Ribblesdale, where he was teaching us geological mapping.

Most odd was his post in July 2015, The Mysterious case of Frack-free Witney  http://www.davidsmythe.org/frackland/?p=162 , why discusses why the Prime minister’s constituency of Witney was not up for shale gas exploration. The reason was implicit – that Cameron did not want fracking in his constituency. This idea gained traction among fractivists.  The location of Witney is clear from the map copied from his blog.

 

SmytheWitney

However note that the area to the east of Witney is not available for exploration. It seems very suspicious until one considers the geology. The sub-surface Carboniferous strata below that area are much thinner than elsewhere as in Carboniferous times that area which stretches over to Belgium, known as the Brabant High was mostly a landmass and thus very little deposition took place. Thus to an oil/gas prospector it is moose pasture i.e. nothing there and not worth drilling. Smythe and I had a twitter exchange on this and he seemed unaware of the Brabant High, knowledge of which is no more than second year geology. (He got narked with me and told me to simply organise bible studies!! He does need to learn some geology! )

In January 2016 Smythe offered a paper   Hydraulic fracturing in thick shale basins: problems in identifying faults in the Bowland and Weald Basins, UK  to the journal Solid Earth Discussion. This was posted to their website http://www.solid-earth-discuss.net/se-2015-134/ for comment and review.

Hydraulic fracturing in thick shale basins: problems in identifying faults in the Bowland and Weald Basins, UK

David K. Smythe 1College of Science and Engineering, University of Glasgow, Scotland
*now at: La Fontenille, 1, rue du Couchant, 11120 Ventenac en Minervois, France

Abstract. North American shale basins differ from their European counterparts in that the latter are one to two orders of magnitude smaller in area, but correspondingly thicker, and are cut or bounded by normal faults penetrating from the shale to the surface. There is thus an inherent risk of groundwater resource contamination via these faults during or after unconventional resource appraisal and development. US shale exploration experience cannot simply be transferred to the UK. The Bowland Basin, with 1900 m of Lower Carboniferous shale, is in the vanguard of UK shale gas development. A vertical appraisal well to test the shale by hydraulic fracturing (fracking), the first such in the UK, triggered earthquakes. Re-interpretation of the 3D seismic reflection data, and independently the well casing deformation data, both show that the well was drilled through the earthquake fault, and did not avoid it, as concluded by the exploration operator. Faulting in this thick shale is evidently difficult to recognise. The Weald Basin is a shallower Upper Jurassic unconventional oil play with stratigraphic similarities to the Bakken play of the Williston Basin, USA. Two Weald licensees have drilled, or have applied to drill, horizontal appraisal wells based on inadequate 2D seismic reflection data coverage. I show, using the data from the one horizontal well drilled to date, that one operator failed identify two small but significant through-going normal faults. The other operator portrayed a seismic line as an example of fault-free structure, but faulting had been smeared out by reprocessing. The case histories presented show that: (1) UK shale exploration to date is characterised by a low degree of technical competence, and (2) regulation, which is divided between four separate authorities, is not up to the task. If UK shale is to be exploited safely: (1) more sophisticated seismic imaging methods need to be developed and applied to both basins, to identify faults in shale with throws as small as 4–5 m, and (2) the current lax and inadequate regulatory regime must be overhauled, unified, and tightened up.

Citation: Smythe, D. K.: Hydraulic fracturing in thick shale basins: problems in identifying faults in the Bowland and Weald Basins, UK, Solid Earth Discuss., doi:10.5194/se-2015-134, in review, 2016.

Several geologists responded and most were very critical. Click on “discussion” on the page to read the responses.

CO Editor

Interactive discussion Status: final response (author comments only)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
[Login for Authors/Topical Editors][Subscribe to comment alert]Printer-friendly Version – Printer-friendly version      Supplement – Supplement
SC2: ‘Comment on “Hydraulic fracturing in thick shale basins: problems in identifying faults in the Bowland and Weald basins, UK” by D.K. Smythe’, Rob Westaway, 05 Feb 2016Printer-friendly Version
AC9: ‘Interim reply to Dr Westaway’, David Smythe, 31 Mar 2016Printer-friendly VersionSupplement
SC18: ‘More rhetoric rather than substance’, Rob Westaway, 01 Apr 2016Printer-friendly Version
AC11: ‘Regrettable re-insertion of citation of a tabloid press article’, David Smythe, 01 Apr 2016Printer-friendly Version
EC1: ‘EC on SC2’, Federico Rossetti, 09 Feb 2016Printer-friendly Version
SC4: ‘Advocacy-Based Science’, Terry Engelder, 16 Feb 2016Printer-friendly Version
AC2: ‘Conjecture and refutation; author’s response to Dr Engelder’, David Smythe, 22 Mar 2016Printer-friendly VersionSupplement
SC13: ‘In a tangle over philosophy of science’, Rob Westaway, 28 Mar 2016Printer-friendly Version
SC14: ‘In a tangle over philosophy of science – ii’, Rob Westaway, 29 Mar 2016Printer-friendly Version
AC3: ‘Water well contamination case history: Bradford County, Pennsylvania’, David Smythe, 22 Mar 2016Printer-friendly VersionSupplement
SC6: ‘TYPOS CORRECTED SC5: ‘Erroneous assumptions lead to fundamentally flawed hydrogeological conclusions”, Paul L. Younger, 18 Feb 2016Printer-friendly Version
AC8: ‘Reply to Professor Paul Younger’, David Smythe, 31 Mar 2016Printer-friendly VersionSupplement
SC20: ‘Rejoinder to Smythe’s response on hydrogeological issues’, Paul L. Younger, 14 Apr 2016Printer-friendly Version
EC2: ‘removal of SC3 and SC5’, Federico Rossetti, 19 Feb 2016Printer-friendly Version
SC7: ‘This paper shows a poor understanding of the hydraulic fracturing process’, James Verdon, 19 Feb 2016Printer-friendly Version
SC8: ‘Correcting formatting issues in Verdon comment SC7’, James Verdon, 19 Feb 2016Printer-friendly Version
AC7: ‘Reply to Dr James Verdon’, David Smythe, 31 Mar 2016Printer-friendly VersionSupplement
SC9: ‘Reply to “Hydraulic fracturing in thick shale basins: problems in identifying faults in the Bowland and Weald Basins, UK”’, Huw Clarke, 02 Mar 2016Printer-friendly Version
AC5: ‘Reply to Huw Clarke of Cuadrilla Resources Ltd’, David Smythe, 24 Mar 2016Printer-friendly VersionSupplement
SC10: ‘Some additional thoughts on Preese Hall’, Rob Westaway, 04 Mar 2016Printer-friendly Version
AC1: ‘Failure by Dr Westaway to incorporate well data released in April 2015’, David Smythe, 05 Mar 2016Printer-friendly Version
SC12: ‘Diversity of stratigraphic interpretations for the Preese Hall-1 well and surroundings’, Rob Westaway, 10 Mar 2016Printer-friendly Version
SC11: ‘Misunderstanding of the Literature and Expanding the Discussion of Fracturing Fluid Migration Modeling’, Daniel Birdsell, 04 Mar 2016Printer-friendly Version
AC4: ‘Response to Daniel Birdsell and co-authors’, David Smythe, 22 Mar 2016Printer-friendly VersionSupplement
RC1: ‘Smythe se-2015-134 Review’, Andrew Aplin, 29 Mar 2016Printer-friendly VersionSupplement
AC10: ‘Reply to review by Professor Aplin’, David Smythe, 01 Apr 2016Printer-friendly VersionSupplement
SC15: ‘Comment on use of data and figures in Smythe paper’, Andrew Kingdon, 29 Mar 2016Printer-friendly Version
SC16: ‘Clarification of Affiliation’, Andrew Kingdon, 29 Mar 2016Printer-friendly Version
AC6: ‘Thanks for new PH-1 image data; faulting on 3D seismic not ambiguous; nothing missing from Balcombe logs’, David Smythe, 31 Mar 2016Printer-friendly VersionSupplement
SC17: ‘Preese Hall-1 bedding dip’, Rob Westaway, 31 Mar 2016Printer-friendly Version
EC3: ‘regarding SC18 and AC11’, Federico Rossetti, 02 Apr 2016Printer-friendly Version
SC19: ‘About SC18’, Fabrizio Storti, 04 Apr 2016Printer-friendly Version
RC2: ‘Review’, Stuart Haszeldine, 15 Apr 2016Printer-friendly VersionSupplement
RC3: ‘Review of Hydraulic fracturing in thick shale basins: problems in identifying faults in the Bowland and Weald Basins, UK’, Anonymous Referee #3, 10 May 2016Printer-friendly VersionSupplement
RC4: ‘review’, Anonymous Referee #4, 12 May 2016Printer-friendly Version
EC4: ‘decision on SE Discussion paper’, Federico Rossetti, 14 May 2016Printer-friendly Version

Apart from Haszeldine ( aformer student) the responses were very critical.Finally on 14 May Rossetti made a decision not to publish on the grounds of 3 out of 4 referees rejecting the paper http://editor.copernicus.org/index.php/se-2015-134-EC4.pdf?_mdl=msover_md&_jrl=431&_lcm=oc108lcm109w&_acm=get_comm_file&_ms=49101&c=106184&salt=14965404591990297433

F. Rossetti (Editor) federico.rossetti@uniroma3.it Received and published: 14 May 2016
Dear Dr. Smythe,

your ms. has been now evaluated by 4 independent reviewers. Based on the resulting reports (3 negative over 4), I regret to say that we can not go forward with this ms., since too much work is needed to render it potentially suitable for final publication on SE.

My decision is therefore to discourage submission of a revised manuscript.

Yours sincerely,

federico rossetti

This is a sharp response, especially the last sentence.

 

I find this a strange story, and would be more sympathetic if he did not get some basic geology wrong i.e. unaware of the Brabant High, and did not try to trash so many eminent scientists, whose work I have got to know.

There do seem to be close parallels with Mike Hill, who also opened himself up to be discredited, yet both are held in high regard by fractivists.

I am left rather baffled why both Hill and Smythe have followed their courses of action.

 

Greenpeace is WRONG over fracking

 

 

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Open letter to Greenpeace regarding their misleading science regarding Fracking Greenpeace comments in red, and quotes and links in blue. My comments in italics)

Regarding the fracking information link http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/climate/fracking

Re Section 1, about Climate Change, there are some interesting points, but as every scenario shows us using gas until 2050, and we are at present getting 40% of our electricity from coal, safely produced shale gas seems the least worst option as can be seen here https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/237330/MacKay_Stone_shale_study_report_09092013.pdf

Section 2.

‘New roads would be built for the thousands of polluting diesel trucks laden with chemicals, fracking fluid and waste fluids travelling to and from the drilling site.’

There are no plans in any of the current cases for water to be transported to the site, as it would be supplied by pipe. Many of these projects are located by motorways, and the figures fade into insignificance with the daily traffic. The roads would be short, as they would use the existing road network. They are also covered by local planning consents.

6 to 17 trucks, so that’s 1 truck every 90mins to 4 hrs on average. Perhaps Greenpeace should campaign to stop farming, or fuel/milk/animal deliveries in rural areas?

‘Fracking uses so much water that the water industry has warned it could make our shortages even worse.’

This is incorrect or irrelevant

Please see this link. This has all been agreed with Water UK.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/299993612/Publications/Policy%20positions%20%2B%20briefings/Shale%20gas%20fracking/pr13-18-water-uk-ukoog-mou-ukoog-26nov-final-clean.pdf

Also see page 6 of this publication. It states Water companies will assess the amount of water available before providing it to operators. How could this lead to shortages then? This publication (Page 6) indicates the amounts used are small. A 1GW power station uses the amount of water to frack one well every 12 hours.

Click to access Water.pdf

In view of 8GW being produced by coal in the UK frequently, this relates to water usage that could frack I well every 90 minutes. It also amounts to just 1% of the daily water leaks from United Utilities, in the North West.

‘The fracking process involves potentially toxic chemicals at almost every stage.’

This is scaremongering

The link given does not describe this. The UK industry is governed by UK and EU law. The meaning of toxic is inflammatory and incorrect. Is the use of the word ‘potentially’ a method of saying anything you want, with no science or law to back it up? ‘Potentially’, oxygen, water, salt, sugar, carbon dioxide are all possible causes of death. To present these materials as intrinsically ‘toxic’ would be bizarre.

You can see a review and links of the laws and statutory instruments at

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydraulic_fracturing_in_the_United_Kingdom#Chemicals_permitted_for_hydraulic_fracturing_in_the_UK

Please take note of the JAGDAG list and the WFD restrictions on chemical usage in this field. This is EU law after all.

Flowback fluid contains NORMS and must be disposed of under Environment Agency licence. It is incorrect to describe this as ‘toxic or hazardous’. It is correct to describe it as ‘radioactive’ as it is above the level that means that designation applies. (I have all of this from a Chartered Waste Engineer, Lee Petts of Remsol)

As the UK’s Environment Agency found, flow-back fluid from the Lancashire shale contained “notably high levels of sodium, chloride, bromide and iron, as well as higher values of lead”

This is irrelevent

As disposal of this is all covered under Environment Agency licence, why is there a problem? As I am sure you are aware, the Environment Agency and Lancashire CC planning office were perfectly happy with the fluid handling proposed by Cuadrilla. In fact, the current plans are to treat flowback water, and reinject it, meaning that the vast bulk of this would be returned from whence it came. Wells are fracked in as many as 30 separate stages. Flowback water from one stage is cleaned up on site and reinjected on the next stage.

There are many industries that produce polluted water, and all are required to follow the law on disposal. That is why the UK is an increasingly clean country. There is no evidence that laws for the fracking industry are any different. Regulations were in fact tightened after the first fracked flowback water was dealt with in Davyhulme waste treatment facility.

‘The shale is fracked deep under ground but if something goes wrong with the well, gas and fluids can leak into the ground or water supply higher up’.

This is incorrect

This displays a lack of knowledge of how wells are produced and the hydraulic forces that govern fluid flows. Gas would come up a production ‘tubing’ that is inside the casing, and sealed off near the production zone by a ‘packer’. If that or any of the tubing did leak, it would immediately become apparent, as the annulus would pressure up. The gas will not come into contact with the casing in normal operation. Please feel free to discuss this with any competent drilling engineer. It also fails to take account of the pressure profile that would prevent frack fluids from rising, as they are too dense. They would simply remain deep down in the well whilst non-toxic gas bubbled up through it. Shale gas in the UK is very similar to the N Sea gas we have been using for decades.

‘Studies in the US have indicated this may be happening in areas with lots of drilling in Pennsylvania and Texas where contaminants including were found at higher concentrations in water wells closer to fracking sites.’

This is incorrect (The Pennsylvania link refers to well casing leaks, and the Texas one has no information about fracking)

In fact the US EPA has recently published its draft review. The press release headline is

‘Assessment shows hydraulic fracturing activities have not led to widespread, systemic impacts to drinking water resources and identifies important vulnerabilities to drinking water resources’.

http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/d0cf6618525a9efb85257359003fb69d/b542d827055a839585257e5a005a796b

It then goes on to state

‘Apart from a very few cases of very shallow fracking, the risk to water is a result of…

 inadequately cased or cemented wells resulting in below ground migration of gases and liquids;

 inadequately treated wastewater discharged into drinking water resources;

 spills of hydraulic fluids and hydraulic fracturing wastewater, including flowback and produced water.’

In addition truck accidents and spills that have not been cleaned up have also resulted in pollution.

The fracking process itself, provided it is done at sufficient separation from aquifers, is very low risk, as was noted by the Royal Academy of Engineering report in 2012. See 1.4.1

‘Many claims of contaminated water wells due to shale gas extraction have been made. None has shown evidence of chemicals found in hydraulic fracturing fluids’

https://royalsociety.org/~/media/policy/projects/shale-gas-extraction/2012-06-28-shale-gas.pdf

Shallow fracking is against the law in the UK, at less than 1000m, unless there is a special licence as can be seen here. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2015/7/section/50

It is common for the claim to be made that the few issues that have occurred are due to fracking. This is false. They are a risk in any form of drilling. This was reported before the EPA draft report.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/energy/fracking/11097487/Fracking-doesnt-contaminate-water-supplies-faulty-shale-gas-wells-do.html

Reports such as the AP one of ‘243 wells polluted in Pennsylvania’ ONLY involve gas or naturally occurring materials with one exception (drilling mud).. There are many press reports but the following link deals with the science. This is to do with poorly constructed wells, and poor regulation, NOT fracking. http://energyindepth.org/marcellus/digging-deeper-into-those-243-dep-determination-letters/

There was a recent report that did claim that a chemical used in fracking, 2-n-Butoxyethanol had migrated 1 to 3km underground. This would seem unlikely as the chemical is

 unstable, it quickly breaks down. It is in fact a food additive

 it is present in hundreds of other applications, including in the cement that was used to seal surrounding wells where the sample was found.

 Quote ‘Part of the problem may have been wastewaters from a pit leak reported at the nearest gas well pad’

It transpired that the scientist doing the research was working as an expert witness for the water well owner who was suing the drilling company! Quote from footnotes ‘Conflict of interest statement: G.T.L. and Appalachia Consulting provided litigation support and environmental consulting services to the impacted households’…so that’s not very ethical is it?

This is the paper abstract. http://www.pnas.org/content/112/20/6325.abstract

Industry comment is also available at http://energyindepth.org/national/major-research-gaps-in-new-groundwater-study/ It is complex and detailed but it would appear that the newspaper headlines stating that this was caused by fracking are inaccurate. The ‘pollution’ is of parts per trillion of a common chemical could have originated from a variety of sources. In addition analysis of accompanying chemicals would indicate the origin of this pollution is not frack fluid.

Of course how relevant is this in the UK, where 99% of water is delivered by EU law compliant water supply companies! Also only non-hazardous chemicals are permitted by the regulatory authorities….

‘And then there is the risk of a leak from fluids held at the surface……’

This is scaremongering

Unfortunately Greenpeace does not seem to be aware that the fluid containment regulations have been designed to avoid some of the problems that have occurred in the poorly regulated US. These include.

Open flow and storage pits for chemicals are not permitted. See page 4 of https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/277211/Water.pdf

‘In some cases, overflows from such wastewater pits have caused surface water contamination. However in the UK the regulations prevent this fluid contaminating water sources by requiring the operator to:

make appropriate plans for storing fluid safely, and not in open pits

design the site so spills are avoided (and are contained if they do happen)

dispose of flowback fluid safely’

Please see the Cuadrilla website where what they are required to do by the Environment Agency is described. This includes lined and bunded drill pads that would contain fluids in the event of mishap. Are you not aware of any of this? If not then please modify your literature. If you are, then why are you presenting false data to the public? http://www.cuadrillaresources.com/protecting-our-environment/

In addition, it is a condition of licencing that gas containment is 100%, except for emergencies. This can be seen on page 2 and 3 of https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/277219/Air.pdf

Quote ‘Natural gas may only be vented for safety reasons’. This includes the containment of other gases from flowback.

‘but most of the monitoring will ultimately be down to firms like Cuadrilla, and when has that ever gone wrong before?’

This is misleading

How is a link to the ‘edge of drilling technology’ i.e. the Deepwater Horizon disaster, a comparison for the low pressure land wells proposed? Would Greenpeace compare the dangers of racing a top rally car, with daily driving?

Why are there no comparisons with the North Sea, or any other oil/gas fields? Or comparisons with other engineering disciplines, such as Crossrail/architecture/aircraft and engine design/car

manufacturing and many others. All of these are self-regulated in the UK and we are proud of their safety and innovation.

The North Sea, which is an extreme environment, has been exploited for over 40 years, and has not been in the news on safety grounds for decades and has subsidised our economy with massive inputs of tax revenue. The Piper Alpha disaster (NOT a drilling accident) of 1988 lead to a massive review of safety practice. This is an ongoing practice, involving the HSE, DECC and the unions. Drilling is a VERY safety conscious industry. The last I read, the biggest risk were the helicopters, not the drilling.

In terms of the environment, has the quality of North Sea fish/scallops etc, diminished due to oil and gas drilling?

I would appreciate a speedy respomse to the points I have raised, and request modification of the misleading parts of your website.

Regards,

Ken Wilkinson BSc Hons (Aeronautical Engineering. Manchester University 1971-74) 26/07/2015

!2 years working as an engineer on oilrigs throughout the world

Ninetieth Anniversary of the Scopes Trial

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 In October 2010 we visited Dayton for a day and got a feel of the place!! We went round the Courthouse and visited various old buildings in Dayton.

 

THE SCOPES TRIAL 1925

The myth of the scopes trial has taken on a life of its own and has misinformed opinion ever since the trial in July 1925. In the United States science for evangelicals was dominated by the Scopes trial, and the abiding images of those decades are provided by Inherit the Wind. This portrays American evangelicals as having  a hillbilly faith based on anti-intellectual literalism. Edward Larson in his Pulitzer Prize winning book Summer of the Gods (Larson 1997) corrects much of that, but old story still rules. The events that led up to the trial are the most bizarre in the history of science and religion. As we saw in Chapter 3 ( of my book Evangelicals and Science, 2008), the warfare model of the relationship of science and Christianity dominated the twentieth century. In a sense the warfare model both fuelled the events of the Scopes trial and their interpretation as it had become the received wisdom of any secular Americans. The attorney Clarence Darrow (1857–1938) knew the books of Draper and White by heart, and the defense co-counsel at Dayton, Arthur Garfield Heys said, “Of all the books I have read for this trial, the ‘Warfare between Science and Religion [sic], by Prof. White, is, to my mind, one of the most interesting and readable.” With attitudes like this, it is not surprising that fundamentalists initiated the anti-evolution crusade and objected to the new Darwinian biology textbooks, such as Hunter’s Civic Biology  used in Tennessee. In the 1920s the  Eugenics movement was at its height and many eugenicists were evolutionists—R. A. Fisher, Leonard Darwin, and H. F. Osborn. By 1935, thirty-five states had passed laws to compel the sterilization of the eugenically unfit. As Hunter wrote in his Civic biology, “If such people were lower animals, we would probably kill them off to prevent them from spreading.”

Christian anti-evolutionists like the “Great Commoner” William Jennings Bryan (1860–1925) who was a thrice-failed presidential candidate and Billy Sunday (1862–1935) denounced eugenics as inspired by evolution. Bryan called it brutal and at Dayton argued it was a reason not to teach evolution. Billy Sunday bracketed eugenics and evolution in his 1925 Memphis crusade. The Modernist theologians Shailer Mathews (1863–1941) and H. E. Fosdick (1878–1969) both supported eugenics. From our post-Nazi perspective it is difficult not to grant the moral high ground to the Fundamentalists. It also gave reasons to reject Modernism. Ironically in 1939 when most had rejected eugenics WilliamJ. Tinkle (1892–1981) “was still advocating selective human breeding in his creationist textbook, Fundamentals of Biology” (Numbers,1992, p. 223).

Anti-evolutionism was only part of fundamentalist militancy as their main target was theological Modernism, which swept through every denomination. As a result conservatives formed a loose coalition to combat this threat to orthodoxy. Some stressed the German roots of higher criticism and attributed a “survival of the fittest” mentality to German militarism. These were combined into the distinctive Fundamentalism of the 1920s and 1930s and the formation of the World’s Christian Fundamentals Association (WCFA) in 1919. With William Jennings Bryan’s opposition to the war and anti-evolutionism, this led to Dayton. The alliance of Bryan and Fundamentalists like Riley does not demonstrate that they were in total agreement. Riley was a dispensationalist, but Bryan believed in the power of reform to make life better. Bryan had a thirty-five year career in public life, becoming a Democratic Congressman in 1890. With his oratory he became known as the Great Commoner and secured three presidential nominations. After supporting Woodrow Wilson in his presidential campaign of 1912, Bryan became secretary of state and resigned from office after America’s entry into World War One. Yet he was a progressive reformer and  supported both prohibition and female suffrage. As his biographer Lawrence Levine commented, “In Williams Jennings Bryan reform and reaction lived happily, if somewhat incongruously, side by side.” His anti-evolutionism came from his Christian convictions but he was no six-day creationist. He was willing to accept evolution for the animal kingdom but not for man. He was very much in line with earlier Christians, like James Orr. Into this heady political and religious mix the Scopes trial was born. Matters began late in 1921whenKentucky’s Baptist State Board ofMissions passed a resolution asking for a law against teaching evolution. Bryan heard about it early the next year and adopted it. The campaign spread quickly, with John Roach Straton (1875–1929) advocating anti-evolution in New York, Norris in Texas and T. T. Martin throughout the south with William Bell Riley was offering to debate evolutionists, and providing the support of theWCFA. Three years later these four were the most prominent ministers supporting Scopes’ prosecution. In January 1925 Senator Shelton introduced a bill in the Tennessee Legislature. The next day John W. Butler put forward similar legislation in the House of Representatives, demanding a $500 fine for a public school teacher teaching “any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible …” The House passed it by 71 votes to five. The public was caught off guard and opponents began to work on the Senate and wrote letters to the press. In February Billy Sunday returned to Memphis for a second crusade. On March 21, the Senate passed the Butler bill by twenty-four to six and itwas sent to the Governor to sign. Despite protests from evolutionists and liberal churchmen it was made law in Tennessee. The American Civil Liberties Union saw the bill as contrary to civil liberties and offered legal help to any schoolteacher challenging the law.

Entrance to mine closed in 1924, which resulted in economic problems for Dayton (I had a delightful walk there)

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What happened next is slapstick comedy. Dr. George Rappleyea, a mine Manager, who attended a modernist Methodist church, read in the Chattanooga Times on May 4 of the ACLU’s offer of legal help. The most credible version of the legend says he hurried to Robinson’s drugstore and suggested getting publicity for Dayton. With seven others, including several attorneys, he obtained support from the ACLU. They then called in the high school’s science teacher and football coach, John Scopes and Rappleyea asked him if he had been teaching from Hunter’s Civic Biology. When he admitted his felony Robinson told him, “Then you’ve been violating the law” and then asked, “John, would you be willing to stand for a test case?” The die was cast.

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Scopes was not a radical and taught physics, math, and football rather than biology. Like his father he was agnostic. He preferred sport to politics and occasionally attended  Dayton’s Methodist church. The following day, affront-page article in the Banner carried the story how George Rappleyea was prosecuting a teacher for violating state law. Anyone reading that the prosecution was acting for the ACLU would have known it was not an ordinary criminal case. Many Tennesseans did not appreciate Dayton’s publicity stunt.

Scope’s lodgings

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The preliminary hearing took place on May 9 for action in August. The prosecutors included two local attorneys Sue (a man) and Herbert Hicks along with Bryan, though he had not pursued law for thirty years. According to Larson, this changed the whole issue from a narrow constitutional test to one where evolution as well as Scopes was on trial. The ACLU’s hopes for a test case were dashed again when Clarence Darrow offered to duel Bryan. Darrow, who was then sixty-eight, is best described as an atheistic pugilist of considerable notoriety, which had increased after his successful defense of the Leopold-Loeb case, when Darrow saved two from death by appealing to psychological determinism. The historian Will Herberg described him as ‘the last of the ‘village atheists’ on a national scale’. The humanist Edwin Mimms from Vanderbilt University wryly commented, “When Clarence Darrow is put forth as the champion of the forces of  enlightenment to fight the battle for scientific knowledge, one feels almost persuaded to become a Fundamentalist.”

The ACLU tried to displace Darrow as defense lawyer, but Scopes wanted him. The trial began on July 10, with five hundred visitors from the media. With America’s finest journalists present, including H. L. Mencken, the trial became a media event and dominated the national  newspapers for a week. Judge Raulstonarrived at 8.30 a.m. with a Bible and statute book and as temperatures were set to top 100 degrees he allowed attorneys to dispense with coats and ties. He was followed by the defense, Darrow, Malone and Neal, and then Scopes and Rappleyea. At nine o’clock Bryan entered with the other prosecutors to great applause. The court opened with an “interminable” prayer punctuated by amens. Shortly before noon a thousand people left the stifling courtroom, to find four steers being barbecued. After lunch the jury was selected and the venire men chosen were fundamentalist inclined ,which Mencken did not regard as impartial. After that court was adjourned for the weekend and most visitors headed to the Great Smoky Mountains to escape the heat, while Bryan preached at Dayton’s Southern Methodist church.

The Courthouse,Dayton

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Me in the dock

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And by his statue

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On Monday the court was refilled to capacity and business began. The defense challenged the constitutionality of the antievolution statute to quash the indictment. Neal and Hays began the defense so that Darrow could close dramatically. Hays compared the statute to a law against  Copernicanism claiming that “Evolution is as much a scientific fact as the Copernican theory. McKenzie and Stewart took up the prosecution. Then Darrow took the floor and argued that the antievolution law was illegal as it established a particular religious viewpoint in public schools. Darrow’s speech was electric and Mencken wrote that “It was not designed for reading but for hearing.” Responses to the speech were varied, some hissed (morons to Mencken) and others applauded. Court resumed next morning only to be adjourned due to power failure, which prevented Judge Raulston from preparing his ruling on the motion to quash the indictment.

Wednesday was the hottest day and during lunchtime Scopes went swimming in a mountain pool with two of the prosecutors, Wallace Haggard and William Bryan Jr. and returned late.

A local river

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That afternoon the defence’s first witness, the zoologist Maynard M. Metcalf, was called and Darrow prevented Scopes from taking the stand, because he was not, in fact, a biology teacher and that would collapse the whole trial. Metcalf was an Oberlin graduate and also taught a college-age Sunday-school class. Darrow persuaded Metcalf to explain evolution. The next day William Bryan Jr. opened for the state. Hays followed, to be answered by Bryan Sr., who rose to the occasion with an hour-long attack on teaching evolution, followed by Malone with an appeal for freedom. Stewart was last and put the case for statutory interpretation rather than testimony for or against evolution.

The next day the court met for an hour before closing for the weekend. Monday was crunch time and every seat was filled by 8.30a.m.. when proceedings began with prayer aimed at the defense. Hays read out  the statements of the witnesses for the defense, eight scientists, three of whom sought to reconcile evolution with Genesis, as did the four religious witnesses, including Shailer Mathews. Then Hays summoned Bryan who stated, “They came here to try revealed religion. I have come here to defend it, and they can ask me any questions they please.” As the Nashville Banner reported, “Then began an examination which has few, if any, parallels in court history. In reality, it was a debate between Darrow and Bryan on Biblical history, on agnosticism and belief in revealed religion.”

They jousted over Jonah and the whale and the long day of Joshua. When it came to Genesis 1, Bryan demonstrated his acceptance of the Day-Age interpretation, resulting in the following exchange:

Have you any idea of the length of these periods?

No; I don’t

Do you think that the sun was made on the fourth day?

Yes.

And they had evening and morning without the sun?

I am simply saying it is a period.

They had evening and morning for four periods without the sun, do you think?

I believe in creation as there told, and if I am not able to explain it I will accept it.

This gave the defense what they wanted in that as Hays said, “Bryan had conceded that he interpreted the Bible.” Scopes reported in his autobiography that, “The Biblical literalists…were…disappointed that Bryan gave ground” (Larson, 1997, p. 189) This part of Bryan’s testimony was altered in Inherit the Wind. Soon afterwards Raulston adjourned for the  day and Darrow’s supporters were jubilant. Next day the jury was sent out after Darrow had suggested that the judge should instruct them  to find the defendant guilty. They did and recommended a $100 fine. The following Sunday afternoon Bryan died in his sleep after preaching in this church

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Then the Scopes trial took on a life of its own. Soon the Scopes legend began to grow, beginning ith the publication of F.L. Allen’s Only Yesterday:an Informal History of the Nineteen-Twenties in 1931 and culminating with the release of the film version of Inherit the Wind in 1960. As Larson wrote, “Far more than what happened in Dayton, these two works shaped how later generations would come to think of the Scopes trial.” Allen intended to give a racy account of the Roaring Twenties, but  altered what happened at the trial, incorrectly stating, “Bryan affirmed his belief that the world was createdin 4004 BC.” By doing this Allen wrongly persuaded future generations that not only was Bryan a six-day creationist but that this was a central tenet of fundamentalism. As Larson points out Allen made many distortions, which became the Scopes legend. Larson then names other writers who adopted Allen’s account such as the historians Furniss and Hofstadter.

Hofstadter drew parallels with the Scopes trial and McCarthyism in his Anti-intellectualism in American life, which is what the liberal left wanted to hear. This association with McCarthyism inspired Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee’s play, Inherit the Wind, in which anti-evolutionism was not the danger but McCarthyism instead, as they felt that McCarthyism paralleled some aspects of the Scopes trial. When I first saw the film some thirty years ago I thought it was a docudrama of the Scopes trial. Whatever the intentions of the playwrights, this is how most viewers perceive it as it molded their understanding of 1920s anti-evolutionism. The characters in Inherit the Wind have their counterparts in the Scopes trial, but much was changed for artistic and political reasons. Prominent in the film is the fundamentalist mob singing about the old-time religion. Bryan was metamorphosed into Brady, a mindless reactionary demagogue who told Drummond (Darrow) that creation took  place “on the 23rd of Octoberin the Year 4004BC at  -uh,at 9 a.m!” Brady collapsed and died at the end of his closing speech. At the time critics savaged the play and the movie and by 1967 Joseph Wood Knutch could say, “Most people who have any notions about the trial get them from the play Inherit the Wind, or from the movie.”

The response today of YEC leaders to the Scopes trial exposes the ambiguity of the participants. The Bryan of Inherit the Wind would be more to their liking. Henry Morris wrote, “Probably the most serious mistake made by Bryan on the stand was to insist repeatedly that he had implicit confidence in the infallibility of Scripture, but then to hedge on the geological questions, relying on the day/age theory. George McCready Price had warned him against this very thing. Darrow, of course, made the  most of it, ridiculing the idea of people claiming to believe the Bible was inspired when its meaning was so flexible that one could make it say whatever he wished!” (Morris, 1984, p. 66). Writing in 1942, Price complained that Bryan had “conceded the entire geological arguments to evolutionists, with the pitiful results now known to all the world” (Numbers, 1992, p. 99).

The Australian, Carl Weiland, reviewing Larson’s book also criticized Bryan for accepting geological time. He wrote “In fact, it may surprise many readers to know that the ‘Great Commoner,’ as the populist Bryan was affectionately known, would have felt perfectly comfortable with any of today’s ‘intelligent design’ theorists and long-age creationists. In a pinch, he would have been able to cope with some form of theistic evolution, it seems so long as Adam’s soul remained divinely created. . . .And of course, it is well-known that in the witness box, the wily Darrow showed up the inconsistencies in Bryan’s acceptance of millions of years in the face of the Bible’s clear statements on six days. Not to mention that Bryan, not having a clear stand or understanding on the historicity of Genesis, had no coherent response to the question of Cain’s wife, either. The message this gave people was quite clear—if even this great ‘champion’ stumbled in the face of ‘science,’ Christians had no answers, and the Bible could not be trusted.”3

It is almost impossible to consider the Scopes trial dispassionately as it is hard to separate myth from history. Many see it as the precursor of the recent YEC debates and education bills. In one sense it is, but there are vital differences. In 1925 the contentious issue was the teaching of evolution, but not geology. Today the intention is to reject both evolution and geology.

Perhaps the real victor of the Scopes trial was George McCready Price, who is the grandfather of modern creationism, to whom we now turn.

P.S. A link to the transcripts of the trial http://darrow.law.umn.edu/trials.php?tid=7

Thanks to Gary Hurd for giving the link

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Bryan College, which has recently purged OECs , i.e. those believing the same as Bryan. (Had to correct this as originally said YECs.) They is a distinct irony in that Bryan College is YEC wheres as Bryan was OEC and open to evolution except for humans.

P.S. One aspect I have not mentioned, and rarely is discussed is that many evolutionary biologists, in common with many intellectual Britons, were eugenicists. This gave the Dayton creationists some sense of having the moral high ground, though the science was wrong.

THE APPEAL OF YOUNG EARTH CREATIONISM

THE APPEAL OF YOUNG EARTH CREATIONISM

Caution Creationists3

Why do so many Christians believe in Creationism when it runs counter to almost all of science and is seen to be nonsense, and even dishonest, by non-creationists, whether Christian or not?

This cannot be understood without grasping the deeply–felt reasons for believing what many scientists think nonsense. YEC provides the “scientific” capping to a “biblical Worldview”. This Worldview provides an all-embracing outlook on life and integrates every aspect of their lives. It also enables one to oppose non-Christian Worldviews and to be confident in the “Culture Wars

The most important reason for accepting YEC is not a literal Genesis, but a concern for salvation through Christ. The heart of evangelical faith is redemption through the death of Christ, expressed as Substitutionary Atonement in that Jesus’ death forgives sin and takes away the penalty of death. To some this is dependant on their being no death before the Fall

There can be no death before the Fall. I.e.physical death came in at the Fall (Gen 3) and before that no animal died or suffered. If T. Rex had actually attacked and killed herbivores 100 million years ago, then the whole Christian Faith will collapse like dominoes, hence the geological timescale MUST be false. Q.E.D.! This is at the heart of YEC arguments. This is tied into a particular view of Original Sin, whereby Jesus died on the Cross to take away the effects of Original sin. As in this interpretation of Genesis 3 it is seen that Original sin resulted in death, not only for humans but all life as life came under the curse of God and thus no animal died before that fateful fruit-eating.

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Hence any claim that dinosaurs or even trilobites were predating and eating each other millions of years before humans appeared, all geological talk of millions and billions of years is thus WRONG

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Or to sum up what Creationists say about geologists and biologists; “They are all dunces, and teach nonsense”.

SH16DARWIN2

 

Simple argument; if death before the Fall then Jesus cannot save. This is a powerful argument to many evangelicals, especially when put forward with fervour. Thus to a Creationist the whole Chritian gospel collapses like skittles if there was death before the Fall, including for animals.

The Bible says so,. Applied to Genesis, that means Creation in Six days and a worldwide flood. A Young Earth model supports this scientifically, so YEC is the ONLY valid interpretation

ararat_or_bust

Creationists even have a zoo in Bristol to further their ideas. Prof Alice Roberts and others have slated this zoo

Noah's Ark Zoo Farm, Bristol, England, UK

The Bible is totally inerrant and does not make a mistake over anything and thus to deny a world-wide flood and to affirm vast geological time is to claim the Bible is errant. And so the logic goes; if the Bible “lies” over creation it must lie about Jesus.

The Sabbath and that is dependent on a six-day creation and thus “billions” of years is wrong..Hence as these arguments are seen as essential to belief in Jesus as Saviour then a Christian must be YEC. There are no nuances.

Moral concerns In his book The Genesis Solution Ken Ham, and in many other places argues that evolution leads to a decrease in marriage, an increase of suicides, euthanasia, pornography, abortions, promiscuity, sexual abuse, homosexuality, theft, violence, racism etc. Hence evolution is contrary to family values and results in a collapse of morality. Again this is a very persuasive argument of the skittles type.

Anti-reductionism or Nothing-buttery as Donald Mackay called it. I. e. everything is nothing but physics and chemistry and there is nothing distinct about humans. Reductionism often stems from a scientific materialist philosophy. Opposition to reductionism is widespread. Arthur Peacocke, biochemist and clergyman has opposed reductionism from a liberal theological position and founded the Society of Ordained Scientists in 1986 to facilitate this. The same with John Polkinghorne and Donald Mackay, and many members of the CIS and ASA, who reject YEC. However YEC is extreme anti-reductionism, but very beguiling to those who know no science, or who need a dogmatic answer to everything.

The shared belief of family and friends in Christ  This is often overlooked, but acceptance in the fullest sense in a YEC church is dependent on beleiving that YEC is correct  and all this evolution caper is wrong. It  is not difficult to see the pressure this puts on people to be Creationist, as to rejection will cause personal pain due to strained or broken relationahips. It easier simply to accept YEC and ignore any questions. If the church is officially YEC, it is even harder and the pressure to stay and conform is immense.

Many evangelical churches are large thriving ones, with plenty of mid-week activities. British ones are smaller than American but there is the danger of coercion to tow the line. Thus in a creationist church to question the leadership over creation is liable to lead to problems and pressure against one can build up. There are the usual challenges; “don’t you believe the Bible?”, “Why question God’s truth of creation which the pastor/vicar is teaching?”

This type of challenge is a disincentive even to air one’s questions and doubts, as you will realise that you could end up not being wanted in the church. The price of questioning is high. You can be edged out (or kicked out) and lose friends and much of your social life. It IS the unacceptable face of fundamentalism.

However it is denied vociferously.

For the last half-century many opponents of creationists have started by assuming  that if you can explain scientifically why creationism is wrong, creationists will give up that belief. They are soon shown to be wrong, because the reasons for believing creationism are more than scientific.

For many to reject creationism is to give up your faith, your church, your friends and associates, your social life and, possibly, your family. No wonder creationism is so had to challenge. After all, it is the TRUTH…

TruthBeTold (2)

 

Or isit?