Friday, 20 April 2012

How Creationists Lie To Us - 11

Continuing my series on the Creationist book, It's a Young World After All, by assistant professor of psychology Dr Paul D. Ackerman, PhD. Having seen the previous chapter and how the entire argument in it is based on two hoaxes which could easily have been checked, you might expect a little better from Chapter 10. Alas, it was not to be so.

Chapter 10 - Forests In Stone.

This chapter was inserted in 2002 apparently, so any excuse of ignorance of science before that date can be discounted. Ackerman turns his attention to Yellowstone National Forest, an area of national parkland adjacent to Yellowstone National Park which is mostly in Wyoming, USA.

The Yellowstone area is known for it's interesting geology, being seismically active and containing one of the largest known volcanic caldera on Earth, the remains of a massive super-volcano. Not surprisingly then, much of the geology can be accounted for in terms of volcanic activity.

As Dr Ackerman puts it:

Among the amazing wonders of Yellowstone is an apparent series of 27 distinct forests entombed within the mountains. ... At numerous points in the mountainous area around Specimen Ridge, petrified trees jut up out of the ground. Embedded in the stony layers are innumerable fossilized tree trunks, many of them entombed in an upright position as though they had been buried in place as they grew.

The U.S. Park Service has adopted an evolution-based scenario for explaining the entombed trees, and this scenario is explained on tourist plaques and in information brochures found around the park area. According to this evolutionist interpretation, Specimen Ridge records events that occurred about 50 million years ago.

For 'evolution-based scenario', read 'scenario different to the Christian Bible account of Creation in Genesis'. The Darwinian Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection (TOE) has nothing whatever to say about the process of fossilisation, which lays firmly in the domain of geology, but Ackerman is showing us he realises that these fossils support the TOE by showing how old Earth really is, therefore he has to find a way to discredit the account of their formation.

Remember his words, "innumerable fossilized tree trunks, many of them entombed in an upright position as though they had been buried in place as they grew."

Here is his best effort:

The fossilized tree trunks at Specimen Ridge do not have developed root systems. Rather the roots terminate abruptly about three feet from the base of the trunk forming a root ball as is found when trees are forcibly ripped out of the ground. Also, there is little evidence of 27 fossilized forest floors with leaves and twigs, worm and insect burrows, etc. The appearance of the fossil tree trunks is consistent with having been uprooted from some other location and transported in along with the sediments that make up Specimen Ridge.

Why on Earth he would expect to see leaves, twigs and burrows under volcanic ash is not explained but there's that interesting 'absence of evidence is evidence of absence' again which, for some reason Creationists seem to think should not apply to their favourite god.

That minor point aside, however, the more revealing one is his astounding suggestion that a better way to account for these petrified trees standing upright and looking for all the world as though they were buried under a sudden out-pouring of volcanic ash, is that they were all uprooted in a cataclysmic flood and transported there in sediment to form the ridge.

Here is a picture of trees uprooted and carried away in a recent flood. See all the trees standing upright, roots downward, as though growing from a forest floor? Me neither.

So, for Ackerman's explanation to be right, all these trees would have to have been deposited upright, roots down and not forming the higgledy-piggledy jumble we see with any other flood where trees get uprooted and carried away to be deposited elsewhere.

And he presents this as serious science? Can it get any worse?

He says, without even the slightest hint of irony:

The Specimen Ridge fossilized tree trunks are reminiscent of the enigmatic polystrate fossils discussed in the previous chapter.

That would be the whale lie based on an easily discredited single account. Quite so! This feeble effort is indeed reminiscent of that laughable hoax.

Although he doesn't mention the sheer impossibility of trees being deposited in a flood all standing upright, he does seem to be aware of it, and even of the possibility of his credulous readers thinking of it all by themselves, so he tries to cover that base with this account of what happened after the Mount St Helens eruption, and promptly shoots himself in the foot:

Spirit Lake clogged with tree debris following the last eruption of Mount St Helens
After the eruption the surface of Spirit Lake, located about 3 miles north of the volcano, was covered with a two-square-mile floating carpet of uprooted trees. In the years following the eruption, research on these floating trees helped unlock the mystery of Specimen Ridge.

Over time, the floating trees become waterlogged and sink to the lake bottom. The surprising discovery was the way in which many of the logs sank. At first, all the logs were floating in the expected prone position. However, as they became saturated, some absorbed water more quickly into the root portion making it heavier such that they rotated into an upright floating position. Then, with further saturation, these trees would sink to the bottom and “plant” themselves into the soft lake sediment. New sediments washing in with each rain would bury the upright trees ever more deeply into the lake bottom. Trees that would sink at a later time would be buried higher in the sediment as though comprising a later forest. Though occurring on a much smaller scale, these observations are suggestive of what is observed at Specimen Ridge. Sonar readings and other data gathered by scuba divers revealed that 20 to 40 thousand upright trunks were planted at the bottom of Spirit Lake by 1985. Scientists estimate that at least ten percent of the tree trunks at the bottom of Spirit Lake have been deposited in the upright position.

Eureka! The only slight problem though is that the petrified trees on Specimen Ridge are not embedded in the alluvial deposits of a lake bed; they are embedded in volcanic ash.

But even if it could be shown that the petrified trees ended up in a lake which was then showered in volcanic ash, it doesn't solve his problem. He still needs to account for the evidence that this occurred 27 times about 50 million years ago and was not all the result of one flood a few thousand years ago. Although he could have solved one of the mysteries of Specimen Ridge - why weren't the trees destroyed by hot volcanic ash? However, he still needs to explain how the rest of the debris - the branches, the broken trunks, etc, just spirited away to leave just the trunks and roots and the volcanic ash...

Nice one, Dr Ackerman. It's beginning to look more and more as though it's an old world after all. Perhaps just a little more joined-up thinking next time, or is that too close to real science for comfort?

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1 comment :

  1. Frankly, Rosa, your commendable effort is in vain when it comes to the Creationist lot. Not one of them can or will even choose to examine the points you make.


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