How Good Are Those Young-Earth Arguments?
A Close Look at Dr. Hovind's List of Young-Earth Arguments and Other Claims
by Dave E. Matson
Copyright © 1994-2002
Dr. Hovind: The fictitious geologic column (invented in the 1800's to discredit the Bible) does not exist anywhere in the world except in textbooks.
Oh, sure, those early creationists invented the geologic column to discredit the Bible! That just makes loads of sense, doesn't it? Is it possible that Dr. Hovind, who taught earth science for 13 out of his 15 years as a high school science teacher, doesn't understand the concept behind the geologic column? The thought boggles the mind! On top of that, Dr. Hovind is simply wrong in his claim that no place on Earth has a full set of representative strata.
John Woodmorappe, a young-earth creationist, has admitted that representative strata from the Cambrian to the Tertiary have been discovered lying in their proper order in Iran, by the Caspian, the Himalayas, Indonesia, Australia, North Africa, Canada, South America, Japan, Mexico, and the Philippines! (Woodmorappe, 1981, p.46-71. See especially, pp.62 & 67). Furthermore, Glenn R. Morton, a professional geophysicist, has reported that portions of Alaska also contain strata representing all these geologic periods lying in their exact textbook order. (Phone conversation between Edward Babinski and Glenn Morton, as relayed to me.) Sometime later he identified three wells for me in McKenzie County, North Dakota, which had penetrated all the geologic periods in their correct order. Morton also indicated that the East China Sea, the Juixi (pronounced jewshi) basin in China and many more areas could be added to the list. So, the geologic column definitely does exist! That is to say, there are a number of locations where every period of the geologic column from the Cambrian on up is present and in proper order. (Wherever we find relatively undisturbed areas without any of the obvious signs of mountain building, that strata is always in the textbook order. Some of the geologic periods may be missing, either because they were never laid down at that location or because they have since eroded away. However, the relative order of those present is preserved. See Topics G4b and G4c for a discussion of missing and out-of-order strata.)
Showing that the geologic column is fully represented in various places is not my main concern here. Far more important is Dr. Hovind's fundamental misunderstanding of the geologic column, which seems to be shared by many creationists.
The geologic column is an ideal, complete, chronological reference frame that defines the status of those strata having (more or less) a worldwide distribution or correlation in time. For example, local strata that can be traced to places where it lies above strata of the Mississippian Period, and to other places where it lies below strata of the Permian, or which can be dated or identified as belonging to that interval, is defined as belonging to the Pennsylvanian (American) or Upper Carboniferous (European) Period. Of course, we are assuming the usual order here. Allowances must be made for overturned strata, etc.
In the geologic column (American version), the Pennsylvanian Period is the sixth period in the Paleozoic era and is characterized in many places by great coal-, oil-, and gas-bearing deposits. It contains the record of the first reptiles, etc., etc. The geologic column is like a yearbook with the pictures of all the graduating students in it. No one expects that every one of those students will show up for a particular dance! Neither does the geologist expect that some locality must exhibit all the known strata.
The point is that the earth's strata has a very definite chronological order to it, and that order, taken at its most complete, ideal form, serves as an abstract reference frame for defining the actual strata of each locality. The question as to whether some locality has all the periods in the geologic column is only of academic interest; it has no bearing on the fitness of the concept.
That is usually what is meant when one refers to the geologic column. If not that, then the phrase is simply being pressed, rather loosely, as another name for the strata of some locality or localities.