Ancient Earth Smackdown at Santa Fe Tells Global Story
Biblical creationists believe in a global flood, but did you know secular geologists have a global catastrophe, too? Both groups converge on evidence at a certain layer of rock. To get there, we begin at a “a compelling story about the distant past” that emerges from a look at rocks near Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Leslie Mullen, writing for the online Astrobiology Magazine (a NASA website), told the story of an ancient impact. No crater was left, because this impact is assumed to have occurred “sometime between 1.2 billion and 330 million years ago” – but no earlier. Why? Because a boundary layer forms the point of convergence of two global catastrophe stories. Her article focused primarily on the alleged craterless impact of a body 5 to 12 times larger than the stone that formed the more recent Barringer Crater near Winslow Arizona. The mountains near Santa Fe, by contrast, look like a “random jumble of different shapes and colors,” Mullins said; but they “can tell a compelling story about the distant past” to trained geologists.
As evidence for an impact, she cited the discovery of “shatter cones,” which are “cone-shaped rocks each have distinctive wavy patterns, as though the rock itself briefly became a flowing liquid before re-solidifying.” Similar structures have been found at underground nuclear blast sites. The only other force that can make these, she said, is the “instantaneous hypervelocity force of a meteorite impact.” At the end of the article, though, she admitted that to tell the story of what happened will require “an army of scientists and graduate students studying this site, over many, many years.” – indeed, according to Horton Newsom of the University of New Mexico, an expert in meteor impacts, “It could take several lifetimes to do all the necessary work.”
But why the upper limit of 1.2 billion years? It’s not just that volcanoes or erosion tend to erase craters over time. Something happened at that point in the evolutionary timeline that affected the entire planet:
Complicating the question is the “Great Unconformity”, an event that wiped about a billion years of history out of the geologic record of this region. The disappearance of these tons of rocks was due to erosion – seas receded, and the newly exposed rocks wore away through wind, rain and other weathering processes. Then the seas flooded in again and sediments began forming new layers. The result is that a 330-million-year-old rock layer now lies directly on top of rocks that vary between 1.2 and 1.6 billion years old, depending on the location.
But was the Great Unconformity limited to the region around Santa Fe? It is very obvious throughout the Grand Canyon, where underlying rocks, even tilted sediments, were planned flat as a pancake over a vast area. New sediments (beginning with the Tapeats Sandstone) lie on top of this clear boundary, sometimes with huge boulders embedded in the sandstone. Whatever caused a violent shearing force to underlying igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks covered a wide area.
A search on “Great Unconformity” shows that this break in the sediments extends wider still. A journal article posted at Cliffshade.com claims it is found in throughout Colorado, too: “Any volcanism or surface topography developing in Colorado during or before this time had been thoroughly erased by the close of the Great Unconformity.” Wikipedia (no friend of Biblical creationism) states, “Geologist John Wesley Powell called this major gap in the geologic record, which is also seen in other parts of the world, the Great Unconformity.” Clicking on the link elaborates further: “The Great Unconformity is a geologic feature that exists across the world at a relatively consistent rock strata (or depth relative to sea-level).”1
Any unconformity worldwide in its extent would seem to require to a global catastrophe. Creationists confidently point to this layer as the onset of the worldwide Flood described in Genesis 6-9, when the rising, violent floodwaters sheared off the surface of the antediluvian world, destroying the world as it was (II Peter 3:3-9), then began depositing new sedimentary layers that became reworked as the floodwaters subsided (subject to post-Flood erosion and volcanism). What else could have caused the Great Unconformity? (See Canyon Ministries for arguments in favor of the Flood.)
A sample pro-evolutionist site responded with a different kind of catastrophe. A writer at the Milwaukee Evolution League in 2005 answered the creationist claim with a counter-claim that glaciers did it. “Only a glacier can plane off rugged, jagged mountaintops with such level precision,” the writer, who calls himself “SaganJr,” said. “A massive enough glacier can literally bulldoze over rock, leveling off everything in its path.” He claimed this also coincides with a time geologists believe glaciers covered the planet: “we know from other geologic evidence that the world was virtually covered in glaciers in the largest ice age the planet had ever seen,” he said. “It makes perfect sense that a glacier planned off the angled, mountainous layers over 250 million years, before the earth warmed, oceans rose, and sedimentary deposits began to accumulate once again. Certainly, this makes much more sense than claiming that a global flood did it.”
Either way, a global catastrophe occurred to form the Great Unconformity seen at Santa Fe, Grand Canyon, Denver, and other continents around the world. Dates and mechanisms may differ, but creationists and evolutionists can’t dispute that flat, worldwide layer in the rocks.
1. CEH does not consider Wikipedia a reliable source; but for this reference, it can be considered reliably anti-creationist.
If a “story” is required to explain the data anyway, who has a better one? One thing is for sure: the present was not the key to the past, as Lyell believed. This is also true for Venus and Mars. So any hope of resting secular planetary science on natural laws – on observable, repeatable processes – is problematic, when they have to invoke very special ad hoc conditions to make their story fit the facts. Creationists admit that the conditions for the Flood were special, but they are not ad hoc, because one chooses whether or not to believe the eyewitness that tells us what happened, and why.
Another thing that seems clear is that glaciers are a poor explanation for the Great Unconformity. Glaciers slide down mountains. If the whole world were a mountain covered with ice, the glaciers would have no place to slide and plane off the surface. Where are the valleys, like Yosemite? Where are the moraines? Why did it happen when they say it did, and not earlier or later? Where are the millions of meteors that must have fallen in a billion years, and why were none of them large enough to end the ice age?
The Great Unconformity is flat as a pancake in most exposures; this is clearly evident in the Grand Canyon for hundreds of miles. The secular story also has to invoke about a billion years of missing history between the underlying rocks and the overlying sedimentary layers, which are also mostly flat as a pancake (all the way up to the rim of Grand Canyon). If those million years took place, why are there not numerous gullies, channels and faults running through the Great Unconformity? It appears that the surface of the earth was scoured flat in a single event, after which sediments quickly became deposited. It looks like a global Flood.
The meteor that Mullins talked about, if that’s what caused the Santa Fe rocks to look like they do, occurred after the Flood – not hundreds of millions of years ago. The secular date is decided based on the rocks in their presumed evolutionary context – in other words, the rocks in their head. It is not based on some true history that is out there in the world. It’s part of their scheme, their story, of how the world came to be.
If you want to believe the evolutionary story, full as it is of ad hoc special pleading, fine. If you can live the several lifetimes for the army of secular geologists to try to figure out their story, fine. But don’t fall for the notion that it is somehow superior or “scientific” because secular experts believe it. Both camps need a story, but there is a difference between historical narrative and fiction. Historical narrative has eyewitness testimony and usually tends to fit the observations better. Look at the Great Unconformity and think about it. You might want to also think about the 07/15/2010, 07/01/2010, and 06/27/2010 entries.