August 26, 2021 | David F. Coppedge

Ideology Drives Theory at Grand Canyon

Geologists’ open textbook remains an enigma because
new ideas must first bow to the consensus chronology


Under the lowest of the flat horizontal layers in the Grand Canyon there is a sudden break called the Great Unconformity. Below it, the rock-solid bedrock appears to have been planed flat. Right above it, large blocks of granite—some as big as a house—appear to have been ripped out of the bedrock, carried some distance and deposited at angles in the Tapeats Sandstone. It looks like a violent event created this unconformity, after which layer after layer of sediments were laid down as flat as pancakes. This pattern appears over a vast area. At the Grand Canyon, the books are opened for everyone to see – except for those who refuse to see.

The Great Unconformity in Grand Canyon. In some locales, the Sixtymile Formation appears between the unconformity and the overlying Tapeats Sandstone. (DFC)

To evolutionists, a catastrophic explanation followed by rapid deposition is unacceptable. As moyboys, they need millions of Darwin Years to explain the unconformity, because Darwin needs the time for enough accidents to occur for the emergence of eyes and wings and all of the diversity of life. Consequently, secular geologists who subscribe to Darwinism can look right at the Great Unconformity and not see the obvious. Their Darwin-tinted glasses magically turn catastrophic processes into millions of years. In fact, to maintain their Darwinian timeline, they have to posit that this break represents a gap of nearly a billion years of time before the Tapeats began depositing on the flat surface!

ICR President Randy Guliuzza calls this kind of ideology-driven research the “look-imagine-see” method. A recent illustration of it was just published in America’s premiere geology journal:

Peak, Flowers, Macdonald and Cottle, “Zircon (U-Th)/He thermochronology reveals pre-Great Unconformity paleotopography in the Grand Canyon region, USA.” Geology (2021), DOI: 10.1130/G49116.1.

The press release from the University of Colorado at Boulder shows that this feature has remained unexplained even since John Wesley Powell observed it in 1869. The title is, “Geologists dig into Grand Canyon’s mysterious gap in time.

A new study led by CU Boulder reveals the complex history behind one of the Grand Canyon’s most well-known geologic features: A mysterious and missing gap of time in the canyon’s rock record that covers hundreds of millions of years.

The research comes closer to solving a puzzle, called the “Great Unconformity,” that has perplexed geologists since it was first described nearly 150 years ago.

But how mysterious can it be? Something violent occurred to be able to rip out blocks the size of houses and redeposit them at angles. The only thing that makes it mysterious is the secular Darwinian requirement to force the event into hundreds of millions of years.

Changing the ideology would disturb the National Park Service. They would have to change the signs. That would confuse the public. It’s best to keep the narrative going.

Lead author Barra Peak has been trained well in moyboy ideology. She knew her job was first to (1) maintain the moyboy timeline, then (2) look-imagine-see an explanation. With this approach it is possible to imagine some catastrophic events, as long as they never cast doubt on step #1. Notice the high perhapsimaybecouldness index required to use this method:

Now, she and her colleagues think they may be narrowing in on an answer in a paper published this month in the journal Geology. The team reports that a series of small yet violent faulting events may have rocked the region during the breakup of an ancient supercontinent called Rodinia. The resulting havoc likely tore up the earth around the canyon, causing rocks and sediment to wash away and into the ocean.

The team’s findings could help scientists fill in missing pieces of what happened during this critical period for the Grand Canyon—today one of North America’s foremost natural wonders.

The new story does not jump out of her favored dating method called thermochronology, which is an indirect method of divination using the inferred temperature of rocks at a few sites. The data must be massaged in order to fit the ideology.

Using this approach, the researchers conducted a survey of samples of rock collected from throughout the Grand Canyon. They discovered that the history of this feature may be more convoluted than scientists have assumed. In particular, the western half of the canyon and its eastern portion (the part that tourists are most familiar with) may have undergone different geologic contortions throughout time.

…. deep time, that is. Millions of years is the bedrock of modern geology’s ideology.

A convoluted history is a feature, not a bug. Think of the opportunities for imagination that brings! Barra and her friends will have job security for their entire careers.

Peak and her colleagues are now looking at other sites of the Great Unconformity in North America to see how general this picture might be. For now, she’s excited to watch geologic history play out in one of the country’s most picturesque landscapes.

To believe the evolutionary timeline, you have to accept multiple miracles

The press release leaves that big time gap unexplained. “In some areas, more than 1 billion years’ worth of rocks have disappeared from the Grand Canyon without a trace.” Maybe it was never there. Shouldn’t science be about what is there?

Contrary Evidence Ignored

The Great Unconformity is the greatest gap in the evolutionary story at Grand Canyon, but it is not the only one. At three other points, evolutionary geologists insist that tens or millions of years are missing. And yet the layers above are often flat and conformable with those below. If millions of years had passed, geologists should expect to see erosion surfaces. It appears that sedimentation continued across the gaps with no break in time. At several points, multiple strata can be seen folding together, as if they were still soft.

Also, the prominent faults in the canyon go from bottom to top. There are no “truncated” faults that stop part way up the strata (see top banner diagram), except for those below the Great Unconformity. Creation geologists attribute those deep layers and faults to the rise of dry land on Day 3 of Creation Week. The Great Unconformity represents the onset of the Flood, they say.

Students of geology never hear about these arguments and evidences because of a virtual “firewall” in education that prevents them from reading creation journals or hearing creation evidences. Doing so, or hinting that they make some good points, can often be grounds for dismissal from graduate studies in geology. Ideology drives theory, and the Darwin timeline is set in stony minds. This is evident in the Abstract of the paper, which relies on imagination, wildly-extrapolated and untestable dating methods, perhapsimaybecouldness words, and mythical scenarios like “Snowball Earth” (see 7 May 2018 and 2 Sept 2013).

The Great Unconformity is an iconic geologic feature that coincides with an enigmatic period of Earth’s history that spans the assembly and breakup of the supercontinent Rodinia and the Snowball Earth glaciations. We use zircon (U-Th)/He thermochronology (ZHe) to explore the erosion history below the Great Unconformity at its classic Grand Canyon locality in Arizona, United States. ZHe dates are as old as 809 ± 25 Ma with data patterns that differ across both long (~100 km) and short (tens of kilometers) spatial wavelengths. The spatially variable thermal histories implied by these data are best explained by Proterozoic syndepositional normal faulting that induced differences in exhumation and burial across the region. The data, geologic relationships, and thermal history models suggest Neoproterozoic rock exhumation and the presence of a basement paleo high at the present-day Lower Granite Gorge synchronous with Grand Canyon Supergroup deposition at the present-day Upper Granite Gorge. The paleo high created a topographic barrier that may have limited deposition to restricted marine or nonmarine conditions. This paleotopographic evolution reflects protracted, multiphase tectonic activity during Rodinia assembly and breakup that induced multiple events that formed unconformities over hundreds of millions of years, all with claim to the title of a “Great Unconformity.”

For more information about the Great Unconformity vs secular geology, see our previous articles:

  • Ancient Earth Smackdown at Santa Fe Tells Global Story (10 Aug 2010)
  • Cambrian Explosion: Sedimentary, My Dear Flotsam (20 April 2012)
  • Ten Evidences at Grand Canyon for a Global Flood, by geologist Bill Hoesch (30 June 2017)
  • Geology and Anomaly Are Practically Synonyms (25 June 2018)
  • How Secular Geology Forces Observations into an Old-Earth Narrative (19 May 2020)

See also our 12 Oct 2020 article, “Gumby Geology Stretches to Fit Darwin’s Timeline.” It illustrates how geologists play fast and loose with data to fit every observation, no matter how surprising, into the predetermined Darwin timeline.

Geology students receive great comfort from following their professors’ ideology. They earn a D-Merit Badge at graduation, which allows them to travel with the ‘acceptable’ group of peers. Social life is much easier that way. It keeps their work constrained by the consensus. Working in secular geology is somewhat like working in a slot canyon with high walls, where one never has to see the outside world. Since the punishment for venturing outside the slot is severe (loss of job or credibility), the system tends to perpetuate itself. It also gets reinforced by the rest of the consensus, which includes Darwinian biology, Big Media, the National Park service and Big Hollywood.

As restrictive as this ideology is, it makes research easier for three reasons; (1) the look-imagine-see method allows endless variations on the moyboy theme; (2) they can use imagination-words and possibility-words with reckless abandon, and leave remaining mysteries to futureware; and (3) they never have to confront the voluminous literature from creation geologists on the Grand Canyon, because it has already been pre-censored by the consensus. One must go along to get along.

Volunteer points to Great Unconformity, as Dr Andrew Snelling and Tom Vail look on. Photo by David Coppedge, June 2008. Flat layers of Tapeats Sandstone rest on top of the unconformity as if there was no break in time at all.


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