Science in Christian Perspective

Letter to the Editor



From: JASA 18 (March 1966): 32, 18

The recent letter by Dr. Roy M. Allen (June, 1965) contained a suggestion that "nothing more need be said on this phase (scientific aspects) of the subject" discussed in Morris and Whitcomb's book (emphasis added). However, under close scrutiny, part of one of the reviews (March, 1964) of this book may be called into question on the grounds of "scientific aspects", i.e., correct use of scientific references.

Geochemist Wayne U. Ault closed his review of Morris and Whitcomb's The Genesis Flood by urging ASA Journal readers to "look up references cited to see what the quoted works really say." I have checked many of their references. Therefore, I wish to share with other readers, even at this late date, some clear and honest remarks directed at two paragraphs of the Ault review.

I will discuss what Ault called typical examples of statements "lifted out of context and misapplied" by Morris and Whitcomb. Reference is made to an article by Prof. Edmund M. Spieker, "Mountain-Building Chronology and Nature of Geologic Time-Scale," Bulletin American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Vol. 40, August, 1956, pp. 1769-1815.

In one paragraph, Ault asserted that the authors misused a quote from Dr. Spieker because they referred to him as one who exposed weakness in the "basic geological theory." Ault was quite in error in his claim of misuse, and the authors were clearly correct. After saying that the time-scale is the ultimate framework of the science of geology (p. 1800), Spieker expended about one-third of his paper in discussion of critical problems of the time-scale.

In point of fact, a close reading of Spieker gives one ample reason to know that Morris and Whitcomb represented him properly when they said Spieker "insists that there is no actually identifiable boundary between the Cretaceous and Tertiary" (p. 211). Actually Spieker has given considerable attention in his publications to criticism of boundaries of time-scale divisions.

In the above mentioned article, Spieker said variously: ". . . there is no logical reason why the two [Cretaceous and Tertiary] should be separated by a break" (p. 1800); "Many of the physically placed boundaries in our sections may not mean a thing as regards the actual time-scale." (p. 1806); ". . . boundary disputes . . . have invested every juncture in the whole column" (p. 1807); "The doctrine that ... regional interruptions separate the important divisions . . . is sheer dogma" (p. 1810); and ". . . the pictures of great revolutions, critical periods, uniform breaks, and generally rhythmic performance by the earth . . . [are] not really supported by the facts." (p. 1812).

Further, in point of fact, after admitting that subdivision of the time-scale rests on fossils, Spieker noted continued problems in the use of fossils because "prominent changes, extinctions, sudden new appearances", though commonly used as criteria, are each a very poor basis for decisions (p. 1812). Spieker referred to his 1946 article ("Late Mesozoic and Early Cenozoic History of Central Utah", U.S. Geological Survey, Professional Paper, No. 205, pp. 117-161, with many supporting references) in which he discussed the "Cretaceous-Terdary Boundary Problem" and concluded:

The boundary between Cretaceous and Tertiary placed on the basis of any sort of pronounced change in the fossil succession cannot escape real possibility of fallacy, and it might perhaps best be regarded frankly as an arbitrary device, founded as far as possible on phenomena of natural significance but hardly expressive of any comprehensive principle. (p. 149)

In a second paragraph relevant to Spieker, Ault quoted the geologist on the meaning of the terms Cretaceous and Tertiary, but failed to give his readers the necessary context (p. 1806) in which Spieker considered the physical evidence as "chaff", which does not support any general statement about the boundary between Cretaceous and Tertiary. And again, when Ault wrote that Spieker's 1956 paper was not an "admitted exposure of weakness in basic geologic theory", Ault ignored apparently Spieker's repeated criticism of circular reasoning (pp. 1780, 1181, 1811) and unjustifiable reasoning by geologists (p. 1795). Exposure of weakness in basic geologic theory (i.e. time-scale) was an admitted role by Spieker when he wrote in closing his 1956 article, . it may appear that I am mainly an iconoclast- . Yes, much of what I have said is destructive, but if I have tried to smash any idols they are wicked idols and ought to be smashed" (p. 1813).

This corrective communication could be continued within the context of other references mentioned by reviewers Ault and Roberts and used by Morris and Whitcomb. However, to express myself succinctly regarding the value which this born-again Christian personally attaches to The Genesis Flood, re-affirm the following recommendation prepared shortly after the book appeared in 1961:

After close scrutiny of this book, I recommend it particularly to American youth in science courses. The authors have accomplished a unique preliminary report of a new scheme of historical geology based upon Biblical revelation within which scientific data may be Interpreted.

This book, which provides thorough documentation, will help students encounter the circular reasoning of bold evolutionists, and will point out basic objections to uniformitarian geology and radioactive timekeeping. By their discussion of some major problems, the authors have shown clearly that religion can be a stimulus to a re-thinking and re-studying of "actual observed" data of geology.