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The Question of Noah’s Flood




of the Institute For Creation Research



of the Ohio Chapter of American Atheists





Transcribed and annotated by

Frank R. Zindler

May, 1989


On Tuesday, September 13, 1988, I was supposed to debate Henry Morris, Director of the San Diego-based Institute For Creation Research. We were supposed to be debating the historicity of Noah’s Flood. Henry Morris, be it noted, is the man most to be blamed for the recrudescence of creationist pseudoscience in the space-age. In 1961, along with coauthor John C. Whitcomb, Jr., Morris published the creationist “classic,” The Genesis Flood: The Biblical Record and Its Scientific Implications. That was the volume of tomfoolery that formed the basis for what is wishfully called “creation science,” an attempt to make biblical myths look and sound scientific.

The debate was supposed to be aired on the NBC affiliate, Channel 13, in Indianapolis. At the end of July, however, Dick Wolfsie-the host of the program on which the debate was to be held-called me to tell me that the debate had to be postponed. In a voice dripping with disdain, Wolfsie announced that Morris “has a chance to fly in a helicopter over Mt. Aardvark that day, and he doesn’t want to pass up the opportunity.” Wolfsie’s substitution of Aardvark for Ararat nearly sent me into convulsions, and it was a while before I could ask when the debate would finally be held.

Wolfsie said that Morris now was very reluctant to debate me. “He said he’s not going to go on with you if all you’re going to do is spout Atheism” Wolfsie reported. “He says he just wants to debate science.” Wolfsie said he had assured Morris that I have degrees in biology and geology, and that I was fully prepared to handle the debate about the Bible story in a scientific manner. I told Wolfsie that Morris probably had read my ark-debunking articles in the American Atheist magazine, knew I “had his number,” and was afraid to face me on television. Wolfsie indicated that Morris was, in fact, familiar with my writings.

The debate was rescheduled for Monday, October 24, but there was some chance (indeed!) that he would send his son John to debate me. (John has a Ph.D. in geological engineering from the University of Oklahoma.) John had been to Mt. Ararat a number of times, and had published two books about it. He also held the distinction of having been struck by lightning on “the mount of Noah”!

As things turned out, the October 24th debate was not to be, either. Although the TV station had us scheduled for the 24th, the creationist publication Acts and Facts said it was to be on the 25th! The debate was postponed indefinitely, and I feared it would never be. However, thanks to the tenacity and determination of Dick Wolfsie, the debate-with John, not Henry Morris-finally took place on February 13, 1989. For one spirited hour, John and I went at it on “AM Indiana,” Dick Wolfsie’s show.

Although the debate was very successful (from my point of view!), several things marred its spirit. I was really quite shocked when Morris denied that he had ever written that there were fossiliferous rocks on the top of Mt. Ararat. Upon returning home, I photocopied the relevant passage from his book The Ark on Ararat and sent it to him. He replied to me with a letter tacitly admitting that he had written about fossils on Ararat, but placing the responsibility for the claim upon “Dr.” Clifford Burdick, a fellow creationist. In the letter he made several references to unspecified issues of the Creation Research Society Quarterly – a journal not obtainable in the libraries of Columbus – in which Burdick had published his findings.

Not being able to obtain the journal needed (indeed, not even knowing which issues were needed), I wrote another letter to Morris, asking if he would photocopy the relevant articles and send them to me. I enclosed a five-dollar bill for his expense and trouble. In the last paragraph of my letter I wrote:

“In my previous letter, I neglected to tell you that I very much enjoyed meeting you “in the flesh,” and that you now seem to me to be a very gentlemanly fellow. I do hope we shall meet again.”

I was quite sincere about what I had written.

When, after a fair amount of time had elapsed and I had not received a reply, I decided to telephone Morris at ICR. There had been, I should note, a second point of contention that had not been resolved during the debate. Morris had claimed that radiometric dating was not reliable because of the “fact” that rubidium/strontium isochron dates had been done of unspecified Precambrian “lava flows” at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and those dates had turned out to be younger than dates obtained with the same method from lava flows at the top of the Canyon – flows younger than the erosion surface! There had been no opportunity to ask for references for this shocking “fact,” and so in the letter just mentioned I had asked Morris to supply a few details about the lava flows in the Grand Canyon as well as to send material about the alleged fossiliferous rocks on Ararat.

Almost immediately, upon finding out that it was I on the phone, Morris became quite curt and informed me that he was in a hurry and did not “have time for chit-chat” with me. I managed to ask about the lava flows and he grudgingly gave me a vague idea of where some of the samples had come from, but no specific references or even journal titles in which I could find the evidence for the outrageous claim he had made on television. He asserted that over thirty literature references existed to document his claim, but apparently was in too great a hurry to name even one specifically.

Two days after the telephone call, I received a letter from Morris – postmarked May 10, 1989, but dated May 4. It contained the five-dollar bill I had sent him and began:

“Keep your money. The materials you requested are part of the public record and available in many places. I have no intention of doing your work for you.”

He then asserted that “You seem to want me to provide you with information that, if your track record is any indication, you will distort and use against me.” I really had not expected so rude and insulting a reply from John Morris, although it would not have been surprising had it come from certain other members of the ICR staff.

In this brief letter, Morris spoke volumes about his own character and the nature of the creation “science” enterprise. Can anyone seriously think that a “scientist” is seeking truth if, after making an astonishing claim, he refuses to reveal the source of his data, or when, where, how, or by whom they were obtained?

Was Morris just making up his “information”? Or had he misunderstood – or misrepresented – a real piece of research and feared to let me see it to discover the error of his claim? As readers will see from my annotations of this segment of the debate, the latter alternative would seem to be the case.

In my report of the debate in Volume VI, No. 3 of The American Atheist of Ohio, I boasted that “Morris was unable to make any claim that I was unable to refute, and he either evaded altogether questions and arguments raised by Dick and me, or he gave glaringly inadequate responses.”

In the April, 1989, issue of Acts and Facts, however, a rather different account of the debate was published:

“On February 13, Dr. Morris participated in a very spirited debate with Mr. Fred [sic] Zindler, well-known atheist, on a state-wide TV broadcast. Mr. Zindler, a regular contributor to the journal, American Atheist, who has written numerous articles critical of ICR, insisted the debate be over the validity of the Biblical account of Noah’s Flood, judging this to be the most serious weakness in creationism. Morris was able to provide answers to all his substantive charges, while exposing his use of unfair caricatures and ‘strawmen arguments.'”

We will leave it to the reader to decide which report of the debate is the more accurate.


-a debate-

John D. Morris vs. Frank R. Zindler

Dick Wolfsie, Moderator

Wolfsie: I’m glad you’re with us this morning on AM Indiana. On our program today, well, we have two gentlemen who are both geologists: one says there was a Noah and a Noah’s ark, and the other says not so. We’ll talk to them in just a moment… [1]


WOLFSIE: Good morning everybody, we’re glad you’re with us this morning on AM Indiana. We have an excellent show for you today, and I am sure you will find it very provocative and controversial. Both of our guests this morning were educated in a similar way, both educated as geologists; but they have very different points of view as to the origin of man. And a little bit more specifically today, we want to talk about whether in fact there was a flood, Noah, and the ark. Was that a reality? We’re going to talk about the archaeological evidence. We’re going to talk a little bit about creationism, and whether in fact man began as Adam and Eve and whether there was a flood. Let me introduce our guests here right now.

Our first guest is Professor John Morris. Dr. Morris is a Ph.D. in geological engineering and is a leading expert in the world on Noah and the flood, among other things. He has written books, including Adventure on Ararat and Ark on Ararat, and made a couple of trips to the mountain, is that correct? How many trips?

Morris: I’ve been to Turkey on several occasions. I’ve wanted to see if perhaps the remains of Noah’s ark were still on Mt. Ararat.

Wolfsie: Good enough, sir. Also joining us, Frank Zindler. Mr. Zindler is formerly a professor of geology and biology. He is now a science writer in Columbus, Ohio, and he’s a leading spokesperson on Atheism in the country. He is presently the director of the central Ohio chapter of American Atheists.

And good morning to both of you gentlemen. It’s good to see both of you. Professor Morris, let me start with you. As you know I’m wrestling with how to begin this, because I know there are so many things we could talk about. But let me suggest something to you and have you respond, and then I think I can probably sit back for the rest of the show. Is it your contention, sir, that until Mr. Zindler proves otherwise you’re going to accept the fact that there was a Noah and a Noah’s ark, or do you believe it a fact, sir, that based on your trips, you have some proof?

MORRIS: Let me tell you something about science, Dick. [2] Science exists in the present. Scientists all live in the present, and all of the facts are in the present. The fossils, the rocks, everything is in the present; and we do our experiments in the present we study in the present, we make our conclusions in the present, and that’s what science is. The scientific method of experimental observation, reproducibility. When we start talking about the long-ago past, the unobservable past, the even in principle unobservable past, we’ve left the realm of strict science and we’re into this area of faith. [3] Now there are at least two ways of looking at the past. One is this evolutionary world view that the earth is billions of years old, and another world view is that perhaps the Bible is right, and that it does represent accurate history. But in a real sense either view is outside the realm of science and into the realm of faith. [4]

WOLFSIE: One more question, Frank. Let me ask you, John, one question, and then I promise I’ll let you go at it-because I want to understand something from where you’re coming. You and Mr. Zindler were trained in a similar fashion, at good schools. You’re both in the area of geology. Let me ask you this, and then I’ll let Frank jump in. You I’m sure were taught that the earth was billions of years old. Is that correct sir?

MORRIS: That’s right.

WOLFSIE: Okay. So are you here to say that what you were taught, and the method that they reached to come to that conclusion, was inaccurate?

MORRIS: The idea that the earth is old is a historical reconstruction. I mean, nobody was back there to see it or to measure it. What I say about the creationist young-earth world view… We can’t prove that the earth is young. We can’t prove that the earth is old. The facts of geology are compatible to some extent with the idea that the earth is old. The facts of geology are compatible with the idea that the earth is young. [5] Now I’m a geologist. I love rocks, I love fossils, and I have a lot of them; but I’ve never had a rock talk to me. I never had a rock tell me how old it was. You’ve got to interpret the rock.

WOLFSIE: Let’s see if the rocks talk to Frank.

MORRIS: They might talk to him.

ZINDLER: Well, first of all, his definition of science is rather bizarre. It would rule out almost all of science. Science is hypothesis testing, John, and you certainly can test hypotheses about the past.

MORRIS: You can’t test history.

ZINDLER: Yes you can! Absolutely, you can! That’s where you’re wrong.

MORRIS: You can test the results of history.

ZINDLER: Yes, from the results you can infer quite definitely what happened.

Now, you claim that you… In your book Ark on Ararat, you claimed that you found some sedimentary rocks on Mt.Ararat, with fossils. Now I wrote to you, about a year or so ago asking about this, and I never got an answer. I suppose my letter got lost at ICR or something. But…I’d like to ask you now: just what kind of sedimentary rocks were these on the top of Mt. Ararat, and what fossils were in them?

MORRIS: Talk about switch of subjects! To answer your question, the fossils were shells. [6]

ZINDLER: What type of shells?

MORRIS: Dated as Cretaceous sorts of things, supposedly on the order of a hundred million years or so old. Now, I don’t buy the date, but that’s the normal conventional date for it.

ZINDLER: Now, were these xenoliths [7] that had been brought up with the lava, or what?

MORRIS: No, they were sedimentary limestone layers.

WOLFSIE: Frank, help us to understand what you’re talking about. I don’t know what you’re talking about. You guys may be having fun, but I’m lost!

MORRIS: I don’t know what he’s talking about either!

ZINDLER: Okay, that’s fine.

WOLFSIE: Tell us what you’re getting at.

ZINDLER: Creationists don’t understand mountains, basically. They find fossils in the tops of mountains and think that that is proof of Noah’s flood. Now why they’re in the mountain tops instead of on the mountain tops is something they rarely answer. In the case of Mt. Ararat, this is a curious problem, because Mt. Ararat is a volcano. It’s not a mountain made up of sedimentary deposits. And to say that there are fossil deposits on top of Mt. Ararat would imply that it had been under water. [8]

MORRIS: Frank, your problem is that you say that I don’t understand geology. What you don’t understand is creationism. In your articles written about me… You have such a total misunderstanding of what creationists do say…

WOLFSIE: Be specific, Doctor Morris, tell Frank what he misunderstands…

MORRIS: In this subject, I have never said that those fossils were on top of Mt. Ararat. Those fossils are in sight of Mt. Ararat… [9]

ZINDLER: No, you said that there were sedimentary strata on the top of Mt. Ararat, or on Mt. Ararat, I don’t know that you said that they were exactly on the top…

MORRIS: I reported that in 1969 a glaciologist [10] claimed he found a fossil layer about the 14,000-foot level. The fossil layers that I’ve studied are some ten miles away. [11]

ZINDLER: I know that you said that also, but you claimed that there were fossils in the rock on Mt. Ararat, and that’s why I wrote to you…

Wolfsie: Frank, so what?

Zindler: That would imply that Mt. Ararat had been under water. You also said that there were pillow lavas. Now no one else has ever found pillow lavas on Mt. Ararat.

MORRIS: Oh, that’s not true.

ZINDLER: That’s crazy, to think that there would be pillow lavas there. In fact, we have an “ark-ologist” from Columbus, by the name of Garbe. Every time he goes climbing Mt. Ararat I say, “Well now you look for those fossils and you look for those pillow lavas,” and they never find them. The photograph in your book is not of pillow lavas. You say they’re pillow lavas…

WOLFSIE: What are pillow lavas?

ZINDLER: Pillow lavas are lavas laid under water, under great depths of water, and they form like pillows because the lava congeals so rapidly. They have a glassy constitution…

WOLFSIE: I’ve got to stop you. What do you say…Again, I’ve got to think about the person at home. Like, if I were home, I’d be lost here. What is it that you would have liked to have found, or did you find on the mountain, that would have suggested to you that there was a Noah’s Ark? And then I want Frank to jump in.

ZINDLER: That’s a good question.

WOLFSIE: What did you find, or what would you have liked to have found relating to the ark?

MORRIS: In a schizophrenic fashion, he’s brought up so many different subjects… [12] I never claimed that there were fossils on Mt. Ararat. I do claim that one fellow claims he found some at the 14,000-foot level. I have never seen them, and I have looked for them. [13] The mountain is a volcanic mountain. The type of lava that is on Mt. Ararat is consistent with the type that’s laid down under water under great pressure. The aspect of it’s being pillow, that’s a very specific type of lava found in a deep-sea trench and different things, that is recognizably laid down under water. It is a field-judgement call. As a geologist, trained in these sorts of things, I found lavas that in my opinion were pillow.

WOLFSIE: And that would mean…

MORRIS: …and I have pictures of those…

ZINDLER:…that they were laid down under water.

Now you say, on page seven, of your Ark on Ararat that Mt. Ararat was created on the third day…

WOLFSIE: Don’t laugh! He read the book, he bought it!

ZINDLER:…created on the third day of creation week, [ 14] along with the ocean basins, but that at that time Mt. Ararat was only about ten to twelve thousand feet high. Now if all the water came down in forty days and drowned all the mountains of the world, that would require the rain to come down at about eleven and a half feet per hour. John, that’s not rain, that’s hydraulic mining! Everything would have been swept off the surface of the continents. The continents would be absolutely denuded down to crystalline rocks. All the sedimentary rocks would have been deposited in the ocean basins. Now clearly, that’s not the pattern that we see… and it would certainly imply… that does away with Noah’s flood!

MORRIS: Frank, let me say that if you’re going to be critiquing my book, or if you’re going to be critiquing the Bible, which I do believe, what you need to do is handle that [sic] data honestly [15] … Now what you just have said…

ZINDLER: What have I done dishonestly?

MORRIS: …is not what I wrote in that book!

ZINDLER: Oh, on page seven it’s there! [16]

MORRIS: Okay, but I go on, page eight, nine, ten…

ZINDLER: I know, you contradict yourself later in the book…[hubub]…the ocean basins come later… [17]

MORRIS: If you’re going to talk about my work, or if you’re going to talk about the Bible, I’m going to hold your feet to the fire. I’m going to make sure you characterize accurately…

ZINDLER: I’m going to try to keep you honest.

MORRIS: …and not an unfair caricature of what I said; I did not say that…

ZINDLER: It’s not a caricature, it’s comic-book science [18] that you write, John.[hubub]

MORRIS: We need to come to an understanding here!

ZINDLER: Now, if that mountain was ten thousand feet high, where did all the water come from?

MORRIS: We need to talk honestly, Frank. [19]

ZINDLER: Where did the water come from?

MORRIS: We really need to make sure that we’re talking facts, that they’re not your cartoon caricature…

ZINDLER: Well I’m just repeating what you said. If they’ aren’t facts, I can’t help that, John. Where did the water come from to drown Mt. Ararat, ten thousand feet in forty days?

MORRIS: What happen to page seven, being created on day three? You know if we’re going to talk about a subject, let’s talk about a subject. You change the subject…

WOLFSIE: All right, we have to take a break…

ZINDLER: We’ve got to figure out where the water came from…

WOLFSIE: I’ll tell you what we’ll do. You decide what question you want to ask, I’ll ask it…

ZINDLER: I’ve asked it!

WOLFSIE: …and you decide what question you want to answer, and we’ll do that when we come back. Stay with us.

ZINDLER: Where did the water…


WOLFSIE: We’re back on AM Indiana. Both of our guests this morning were trained as geologists; but if you tuned in even a couple of minutes ago, you know we have some real basic disagreements here-about the origin of the earth, Adam and Eve, Noah’s ark, and that’s what we’re talking about. Let me, let me ask a question, and therefore neither of you can avoid it, okay? If you just take the story of Noah, as I understand it, it seems to me there are certain aspects of it that appear to be, on the surface, rather implausible-if not a miracle: how he got all these animals on the boat, how big the boat was, how big the boat had to be… So my first question to you, sir, is do you need to explain those things, or are you simply going to say God did it, it was a miracle, no explanation is necessary.

MORRIS: I think the story of the flood clearly has its miraculous aspects to it; but by and large, the kinds of things that are mentioned in the scriptures regarding Noah’s flood are natural processes. I mean we’re talking rainfall and erosion and deposition; and these sorts of things are present processes that are studiable and understandable. [20] And in those areas, by all means, I do believe that the flood account is compatible with the geologic data. Now we can’t prove the flood; [21] we didn’t see the flood. It’s totally outside the realm of our experience, and so we can only argue by analogy of that. My study of geology has shown me that by and large all of the rock units that are on the earth’s surface were laid down by catastrophic processes. [22] We’ve studied, we have a big study of Mt. St. Helens, for instance, and we study that terrible catastrophe and we see the sorts of things… that dinky little volcano- I mean it wasn’t too dinky for people living on the north side of the mountain in 1980… But that dinky little volcano did the sorts of things, laid down the sorts of layers that we see in the geologic record throughout. All of geology is beginning to move toward this catastrophic interpretation of the rocks…

WOLFSIE: Okay, so your…this is what I should have asked before… your contention is that your approach that your study of the geologic data show that evolution as we understand it may not be right or your study shows you that in fact that there was a Noah or you’re still unclear about the proof on either side?

MORRIS: The point is, science can’t prove the past. What a scientist can do is study the present and do a historical interp… or reconstruction…what happened in the past to bring the present in the state it is now. That’s what a scientist can do, that’s what I do… that’s what Frank claims he does.

WOLFSIE: Okay, Frank? [hubub]…what about the ark story?

ZINDLER: We certainly can see the past. For example, whenever we look through a telescope, we see the stars or galaxies…

MORRIS: Dr. Who, here! He goes back in time!

ZINDLER: …the galaxies as they appeared millions of years ago [23] …But getting back to Noah’s flood, he hasn’t answered the question: Where did the water come from? As I pointed out, we would have had so much water come down in forty days in order to raise sea level almost two miles… that we would have had ten, eleven and a half feet of water coming down per hour. This would have scoured off the surface of all the continents. All the sedimentary rocks would have been laid down in the ocean basins in one great, jumbled mass. That is not what we find. The fossil record, the rock record, shows many cases of rock…things that had to have been formed very slowly and gently. For example, the Chalk Cliffs of Dover, the chalk deposits. These rocks are made entirely of the remains of fossil, microscopic organisms. You couldn’t possibly form a deposit like that in one year’s time, [24] let alone in the jumbled mess of Noah’s flood. How could you get the chalk deposits in one year?

MORRIS: In order to interpret the past, in order to try to explain how any particular rock unit was laid down, we stay in the present, we’re staying in the present…


MORRIS: We don’t have Dr. Who’s time machine to go back to see how chalk was formed…

ZINDLER: Chalk is being formed in the present…

MORRIS: …that’s right, but we have to impose on that [sic] data certain assumptions, a certain interpretive framework. In geology we were taught… you were taught, I was taught, that the present is the key to the past…


MORRIS: …and by studying the present we may find analogies… and so we might know something about the past. But as I said, at Mt. St. Helens, there are episodes in the present which give us a peek into a very catastrophic possibility for the past… [25]

ZINDLER: It shows the 27 buried fossils…at Yellowstone Park…it shows quite clearly how 27 layers of fossil forests were buried [26] … But getting back to the chalk, how could chalk have been formed? These are microscopic fossils of organisms… There is a very strict limitation as to how many of these organisms can live in the sea at any one time. There are remains of little granules formed by algae, the so-called coccoliths. You can only grow so many algae per square meter of surface of the sea at one time…

MORRIS: Let me tell you the error of your thinking, Frank. You’re making the assumption that the present is the key to the past…

ZINDLER: Oh, are you saying that the sunlight didn’t… in the past, the sunlight didn’t limit the growth of algae? [ 27]

MORRIS: In the laboratory, there are a number of different studies that have been shown, that the different algal organisms and different types of things in that chalk deposit… they can grow, they can duplicate, they can double in their volume every day, or maybe several times a day, if the nutrients are right, if the temperature is right… I am claiming that during Noah’s flood, there were locations, there were spots in this global flood where the water was incredibly nutrient-rich, were the temperatures were large enough, to have what we call an algal bloom…

ZINDLER: In the darkness of all this water coming down! During this flood, when we would expect that the skies would be extremely overcast, in fact it should have been completely dark. How would you grow algae?

MORRIS: Well, you say it’s dark, I don’t see that in scripture…

ZINDLER: …that’s a hell of a lot of water, there, still coming down…

MORRIS: That was quite a storm, no question about that!

ZINDLER: … it allegedly destroyed the world!

WOLFSIE: Let’s go from the microorganisms, which I can’t see…

ZINDLER: How about the coral reefs? [28]

WOLFSIE: Let’s talk about the big animals. We’ve got to take a break here …I want to know what was on this boat, how many animals were on the boat, and let’s get into the big picture here, that’s people understand…We’ll be right back.


WOLFSIE: Back on AM Indiana, talking about Noah’s Ark. Frank, let me ask you very specifically, let’s get from the very tiny things to the big things. What about the story, the size of the ark? And what Noah would have had to put on the ark? What troubles you? And then Professor Morris can respond.

ZINDLER: Not only is there the problem of how do you get all of the species of land animals into the ark, the primitive people who created the flood myth in the first place, in the fourth millennium B.C. or whenever, they didn’t realize that plants were living things, and they didn’t realize the implications of Noah not taking fishes and marine organisms into the ark. If we limit ourselves to just the water that is known on the planet, and the volume of sedimentary strata that we know of, and if as the creationists claim, all these sedimentary strata were deposited during that one year, the ocean at that time would have been actually two parts water to one part mud! [29] Now, if that were the case, with a world-destroying flood, how would the whales have stayed alive? They could not have been swimming… through, straining out plankton and so on, to feed. Delicate corals die if there is just the tiniest bit of silt in the water, or change in water temperature, and so forth. So Noah would have to have had enormous numbers of aquaria in the ark to keep the whales going, to keep the marine fishes from dying because of the dilution of the salt water with fresh water, to keep the fresh water organisms alive because of the salt coming in, and all these noxious things that the volcanos are throwing out… Incidentally, if all the volcanic lava beds that we see interspersed between these sedimentary rocks were laid down during one year, the amount of heat released from that lava would have heated the water of the ocean to several thousand degrees centigrade! And so Noah’s ark would have had to have been air-conditioned! [30]

WOLFSIE: And how many animals on the boat? How many species?

ZINDLER: There are at least a million species of organisms known, and the creationists say, well we wouldn’t have to have all the species. We would have maybe just a general representative of them. But even so,with the need for the aquaria, a boat simply the size of an ocean liner would be inadequate. [31]


MORRIS: Frank, you are critiquing the biblical account here. You’re saying that Noah…[three-second flaw in videotape of debate] Here’s the Bible. [holds up a Bible] Now…

ZINDLER: A very ignorant book, by the way…

MORRIS: Oh my!

ZINDLER: Very unscientific…

MORRIS: You are critiquing this account…Will you tell me where it says Noah had to take the fish on board?

ZINDLER: I’m saying it was an error because they didn’t know he had to take the fish on board…

MORRIS: What you’re saying is the biblical account is wrong.


MORRIS: Because there’s not room on board for all the fish and whales and…

ZINDLER: No-no-no! It was wrong because they didn’t know…

MORRIS: Nowhere is it claimed that they had to be on board.

ZINDLER: That’s why it’s wrong…You see, for it to be a plausible argument, they would have had to say, “and he had to take the fish on board, and the corals on board…”

MORRIS: See what this is? Let me show you what this is. This is Atheistic logic here…

WOLFSIE: Well he doesn’t deny that!

MORRIS: No, he doesn’t….He’s Madalyn Murray’s right-hand man!

ZINDLER: I was showing that the Bible is pre-scientific, you see…

MORRIS: An Atheist assumes a very arrogant position, in my mind, that there is no god. Now, every philosopher knows that there is no such thing as an absolute negative. [32] He’s saying there is no god…

ZINDLER: You have to prove there is one; I don’t have to disprove it.

MORRIS: Okay, but you’re making…

ZINDLER: The onus of proof is on you who allege… [33]

MORRIS: But to say that there is no god…that’s illogical!

ZINDLER: On the contrary! It is extraordinarily illogical to say there is a god who couldn’t tell the people who wrote the Bible that they had to take fishes and corals in the ark!

MORRIS: Now your logic is going the same direction…You’re saying that I know, for a fact, that no whales could have survived outside the ark…

ZINDLER: I would hope you would know that!

MORRIS: Well, you’re making the statement that you know this knowledge, that no whales could have survived outside the ark…Now, I think that’s an illogical statement. The flood is not as you characterize it. Let me tell you some things about water…

ZINDLER: It destroyed the world, supposedly…

MORRIS: You betcha! By the billions fish, clams, whales, died in the flood, or maybe not billions of whales, by the billions…

ZINDLER: That’s another thing. There are too many fossils for one world! If you were to…

WOLFSIE: Hey, Frank, now hold it! You know…

ZINDLER: You can’t have all the known fossils living at one time!

WOLFSIE: …I was just about to understand something, and you’re changing on me! Now wait a second…

ZINDLER: You see, you can’t have all the known fossils living at one time… [34]

WOLFSIE: I was just on the verge of getting something here… [To Morris] You’re claiming that the fish didn’t have to go on the ark because the fish just would have survived, because they live in water anyway…

MORRIS: The Bible is very explicit about what goes on the ark. It says that…it says the land animals. It says all those in whose nostrils is the breath of life, of everything that lives on the dry land. So many animals… that’s excluding whales…

ZINDLER: That’s right! [35]

MORRIS: …although they breathe air, but they don’t live on land. It talks about cattle and domesticated animals. It talks about creeping things, the small animals…and the beasts of the field, which are the large animals. And it says very explicitly that those had to be on board the ark…and the birds. Now, he says millions of species. If you add up that number of species, you know, the maximum number even that anyone would even propose would be on board the ark would be, I mean the outside maximum, the worst-case scenario, we’re talking maybe fifty thousand animals… [36] And the ark is certainly big enough to carry that number of animals for the length of time that they had to be…

ZINDLER: Okay, you’d think that there…

MORRIS: Now what he’s saying is…he’s adding to the story. He’s saying that the story makes no sense unless you put the fish on board. I think that’s an illogical addition to it…

ZINDLER: You’ve apparently never raised tropical fish, John….you would know how difficult it is to keep fish alive!

MORRIS: Let me tell you something about water. There are many, many studies where waters of different temperature, of different salinities, of different chemistries, segregate. And during the flood there would have been zones of fresh water, of salt water… there is… again, billions of sea creatures died in Noah’s flood. But all the Bible, the biblical account, requires is that two of each of these created kinds would have survived somewhere in a pocket…

ZINDLER: Somewhere close enough together that they could get back together after the flood! And that stratification would have been impossible, John, because of all the volcanic activity you talk about going on. [37] This would be churning stuff up all the time [hubub]…

WOLFSIE: Were there dinosaurs on the ark? Were there dinosaurs on this ark?

MORRIS: The flood account does not predict…

WOLFSIE: Oh! I’ve got to take a break… What I’m trying to establish…

ZINDLER: Of course there would have been dinosaurs on the ark!

WOLFSIE: I want to understand, because I want to talk about how Noah’s flood occurred… and then I think a fair question is, if there were dinosaurs on this ark, how is that in keeping with how we know that man and dinosaurs didn’t exist at the same time. And if there weren’t dinosaurs, where did they come from, since all the species were wiped out? That seems like a fair question. I’ll try to remember how I asked that in just a moment, stay tuned…


WOLFSIE: Okay, we’re back. John Morris, I was taught when I went to school – might not have been the school you would have sent your kids to – but the school I went to said dinosaurs and man… dinosaurs predated man by millions and millions of years. I think a fair, straight-forward question is whether dinosaurs were on the ark. What do you think?

MORRIS: I think there’s a great deal of evidence that dinosaurs lived during the same time that man has lived. This is what the Bible seems to indicate and there is a great deal of evidence that we can marshal in support of that idea. [38]

WOLFSIE: There’s no word ‘dinosaur’ in the Bible, though, I assume?

MORRIS: There is the word, the Hebrew word tannin [ 39] which is translated in many places ‘dragons.’ I’d think, I’d think… in fact I’d speculate – we don’t know – that people who study about myths, like myths of dragons… and it is true that almost every culture around the world has legends of dragons… and they all describe these dragons in much the same way as we draw our dinosaur fossils. And I suspect that the legends of dragons come from encounters of people with dinosaurs, [40] and that they not only lived at the same time but have died out in fairly recent times. Even in fact in the middle ages, sober scientists who were listing the animals that were alive at the time listed dragons. Alexander the Great [41] has a very sober history of an encounter with a dragon, and most of the historians of the day list dragons as if they were real.

WOLFSIE: Frank, in your opinion, is there incontrovertible evidence that dinosaurs and man could not have existed at the same time?

ZINDLER: Yes, that is not true. Of course, dinosaursdo exist today in the form of birds. Birds descended from small, bipedal dinosaurs. But with that exception, there are no dinosaurs surviving after the end of the Cretaceous period. The whole thing, though, is why aren’t there any… all over the place? [42] Now…one thing, getting back to Noah’s flood… if that had occurred, you see, we should have a mixture of fossils, from the bottom to the top, of all the different types of living creatures, as well as all the known extinct forms. The Cambrian deposits, six hundred million years ago, supposedly – according to him, supposedly – we should find in the Cambrian rocks at least a few traces of human habitation, [43] along with trilobites, along with other types of forms, oak trees… we should at least find pollen. [44] We should find all of these things all jumbled together if they were all contemporary.

WOLFSIE: All right, that’s a fair question. Do we find human beings as we know human beings, and dinosaurs in the same… what do you call them? Sedimentary deposits? Do we ever find that?

MORRIS: Let me tell you some facts about the fossil record. [45] Ninety five percent of all the fossils that have ever been found are marine invertebrates. They’re like shellfish…and a lot of fish, but mostly bottom, ocean-bottom dwellers. The flood as an event was an oceanic sort of event, [46] and the kinds of forces that we envision as having been involved at the time would have been just right for the preservation of oceanic creatures. Those same forces which I envision mostly as huge tidal waves and massive, catastrophic forces [47] … when those tidal waves come in, what they’re doing, is basically scouring at the bottom and as they curl back down, the forces involved would be right for the deposition of oceanic creatures, and would be right for the destruction of land sorts of animals. Less, much, much less than one percent of all fossils have anything to do with the land. Dinosaurs, there’ve been a few of those you know, there have been several thousand dinosaur fossils found… there have been a few men…but mammals, mammals are just real rare; [48] and in fact the mammals that are found I feel date from after the flood, during events like the Ice Age, which were land-associated events which would have been just right for fossilizing land creatures and not for oceanic creatures. But basically, the fossil record shows clams at the bottom, and clams with very little change all the way up to the top. And that’s the kind of thing we find…

ZINDLER: Well, I think people who study clams would be upset by that generalization! But anyway, we do have fossil deposits like the Karroo deposit in South Africa, where there are over 800 billion vertebrate remains. Most of these are mammal-like reptiles, connecting reptiles to mammals…

MORRIS: That number is an apocryphal number. I traced it out one time…

ZINDLER: Oh, really?

MORRIS: The number is…

ZINDLER: Your father cites it… [49]

MORRIS: It is included in a lot of creationist publications… Checking it out, it wasn’t true…

ZINDLER: Okay, well I’m glad to hear that…but there are many billions, anyway, in that deposit. It’s a large deposit; these are mostly mammal-like reptiles, connecting links between reptiles and mammals. But in that… you won’t find any humans, you won’t find any elephant remains, you won’t find any really clearly mammalian things. But you should! I mean, there are plenty of vertebrate remains preserved there. We’re not talking about deep-sea clams. We’re talking about… about continental-type deposits. And they’re not there. You should find at least one some place, one human fossil in a Cambrian rock. That would certainly be enough to wipe out the evolutionary idea; but that has never been found.

MORRIS: Tell you what, Frank, I’ll concede you a point. That’s a point for your side. Okay? It would be nice, for my way of thinking, to find the fossils a little more mixed up than they are. But I think there’s a lot of circular reasoning involved in the fossil record. Whenever you find a human fossil, you date it as a recent layer and… [50]

ZINDLER: No, no…

MORRIS: …there’s a lot of circular reasoning…what we should find if the evolutionary scenario is right… we should find in that fossil record the record of types of animals changing into other types of animals. And as is now recognized by every leading evolutionary paleontologist and everybody else, what we find in the fossil record is clams, we find oysters, we find trilobites, and nothing in between… [51]

ZINDLER: No…John…no…

MORRIS: …and this I think is the biggest argument against the evolutionary scenario…

ZINDLER: It is absolutely wrong! We have…

WOLFSIE: What’s wrong? Wait a minute. What’s wrong? His assessment that there…

ZINDLER: …that there is no sequence in the rocks…

MORRIS: About what I said was, there are no transitional forms in the rocks…

ZINDLER: …transitional forms…In the evolution of the horse, [52] John…

MORRIS: …and to say that’s wrong is to disagree with guys like Stephen Gould… [53]

ZINDLER: No, Steve agrees with me, we’ve discussed this…

WOLFSIE: Drop a few names, Frank!

ZINDLER: No, Steve Gould is not that dumb…

MORRIS: He doesn’t write that way. He says that there are no transitional forms between the basic body types of animals…

ZINDLER: He’s talking…well, all right, he’s going back to the really basic types, the phyla. [54] Okay? But certainly, the classes…

MORRIS: And the orders and classes…

ZINDLER: We do have connections between classes… [55]

MORRIS: …and connections between species.

ZINDLER: Well, now you’re at two different levels.

MORRIS: I know…

ZINDLER: On the one level we’re talking about microevolution and the punctuated equilibrium model…

MORRIS: Which I agree with… [56]

ZINDLER: …which involves one species changing into the next species. On the other hand, we’re talking about large-scale transitions, and Steve Gould happens to be an expert on the mammal-like reptiles. I’ve discussed this with him. These beautifully span the structural continuity from a very primitive type of reptile to a primitive type of mammal. The entire structure of the jaw, the middle ear structure – which is how we define mammals – is there to be seen. [57] The evolution of the horse, John, these are in Tertiary rocks…

MORRIS: The horse, I’m very confident, is after the flood. [58] Those fossils are from after the flood.

ZINDLER: The Tertiary deposits were laid down after the flood?

MORRIS: Not as a general…I wouldn’t say all Tertiary deposits are from after the flood, but as a general rule, those Tertiary deposits that contain mammal fossils, those few mammal fossils that there are, are probably from after the flood. [59]

WOLFSIE: Don’t we have…I thought we had a pretty good scientific way of dating something.

MORRIS: Let me tell you how to date a sedimentary rock, the kind with fossils in them. If you find a fossil out in the field somewhere and you take it into the geology lab, and say “tell me how old this fossil is,” you know what they’ll do? They’ll turn to this textbook, and they’ll look… open to the geologic column, and they’ll look until they find a picture of that fossil in this book, and say “Oh, that fossil lived three hundred million years ago, so this fossil is three hundred million years old.” You cannot date a sedimentary rock [ 60] or fossil [61] with the radiometric dating schemes. These only work with lava and granite, things like that. But not for sedimentary rock. You date the rock by the fossils that are in there, and those dates are established by the evolutionary assumption… [62]

ZINDLER: Not so…

MORRIS: You betcha! It’s circular reasoning!

ZINDLER: Okay, now…

WOLFSIE: Thirty seconds, Frank, we’ve got to take a break…

ZINDLER: This is the way you do it quickly. However, the original sequence, we know that that fossil lived at a certain period, and not another…

MORRIS: How do you know that?

ZINDLER: From the position of the rock…It’s just below the other…[complete chaos for five seconds] …this is elementary geology…

MORRIS: I know that. You don’t get a number that way, you get a sequence…

ZINDLER: …you get the sequence, that’s right. Now, from the sequence then you proceed to use other methods of dating. Many of the sedimentary strata are interspersed between lava flows which can be dated radiometrically, and, despite the various problems with specific radiometric dating methods, you can use one method to check another, [63] and you can…

MORRIS: You want me to tell you what’s wrong with radiometric dating?

WOLFSIE: Yes…well, probably not! Let’s take a break. That will be complicated. We’ll be right back after a quick break.


WOLFSIE: All right, we’re going to talk about this idea, how old the earth is, and this whole idea of dating. I’m going to have to put you on the spot here, Professor Morris. Your contention would be, conservatively, how old, in fact, is the earth? [64]

MORRIS: You know, I’ve dug up a lot of rocks in my day, and I’ve never dug up one with a label on it to tell me how old it is. We’ve got to interpret those rocks, based on what we see in the present. And one of the ways that… potentially a way to date a rock is by measuring the isotopes in there and we end up with radiometric dating. The assumptions that are involved in those methods, like the assumption that the present is the key to the past, are really in every case questionable at best, and wrong in many cases. In fact the idea of radiometric dating denies at its very core the idea that the earth might be young. It’s not a possibility that those methods would show that the earth was young. [65]

WOLFSIE: Here’s what I don’t understand. We’re not arguing four billion years versus five billion years. We’re arguing several thousand years versus four billion years…that’s a disparity that I can’t comprehend.

ZINDLER: Yes, that’s important…

MORRIS: That’s right…the scientific answer to that question, not the emotional answer, but a scientific answer, is that the rock data, the isotope data, is [sic] compatible with the idea of an old earth; and the rock data is [sic] compatible with the idea of a young earth.

WOLFSIE: I don’t understand… [66]

MORRIS: It can go either way. The rocks don’t talk. Let me talk about a…let me tell you about a research project that we’re working on right now…

WOLFSIE: Quickly, I want to make sure Frank gets to respond…

MORRIS: In the Grand Canyon there are two different lava flows, that can be dated by the radiometric dating methods. The one is at the very bottom, one of the oldest rocks, and is probably…you know, one of the very earliest rocks down at the way bottom of the canyon. And the other lava flow is on the very plateau, and it was… there was a volcano after the canyon was formed; and the stuff spilled down in the canyon… and it is thought by normal dating methods that that should be just a couple million years old. But with the dating methods, down at the bottom, we’ve got a whole slough of dates, but basically they… now, by using the best methods of geology today, the rubidium-strontium isochron method, they dated that at 1.1 billion years. Using that same method, the very same method, the same technique, the same accuracy, they dated the one at the top at 2.6 billion years! [67]

WOLFSIE: But that still puts you out of business, because you’re saying the earth’s five thousand years old…

MORRIS: No-no-no-no! I’m just saying that radiometric dating is so full of unfounded, probably wrong assumptions…[hubub] you can only get out depending upon what you put in…

ZINDLER: Dick, we don’t have time enough to go in to all of the figures, into all the techniques of radiometric dating. The creationists have screwed it up so badly, it takes hours to explain. [68] But we don’t need radiometric dating. For example, we have many rocks that do talk to us – very eloquently – and they tell us how long it took for them to be formed. The Green River Shale, which was laid down in the Eocene Epoch, has layers in it…very tiny, thin layers… a varve-like deposit. They’re not true varves, [69] but they are annual deposits, and there are six million pairs of these at least! So that would mean that that part of the Eocene Epoch had to have been six million years in length. Now we know that these are annual deposits, despite your father’s muddlement [ 70] of this, because they follow the eleven-and-a-half-year thickness variation in … like the sun-spot cycle. They follow higher astronomical cycles, the 20,000-year precession of the equinox cycle, [71] and so forth. In each layer we have a very thin amount of clay-like sediment, and then an algal mat, with spores and sometimes dead leaves and things like that; and these are annual deposits, they follow the annual cycle….

WOLFSIE: That means what?

ZINDLER: That means that that hunk of time was at least six million years in duration. And that wipes out not only Noah’s flood, but the whole mythology of the Bible and creation. The earth was created 4004 B.C. if you add up all the “begats” in the Bible.

WOLFSIE: Are you comfortable with that date? 4004 B.C.? [72]

MORRIS: I would say, between six and ten thousand years… [73]

WOLFSIE: Okay, don’t we have recorded history that far back?

ZINDLER: Well, recorded history only goes back to about 3000 B.C…

MORRIS: Which is what the Bible would make you expect… [74]

ZINDLER: But you know, certainly we have overlapping tree rings…dendrochronology goes back beyond that. If we add up the begats we have Noah’s flood in the year 2348 B.C. That’s in the Fifth Egyptian Dynasty, [75] the Yao Dynasty of China, the…

MORRIS: May I comment on the Green River oil shale that he’s talking about? Before he changes the subject to the Ming Dynasty?

WOLFSIE: Yaahh, I wondered about that…

MORRIS: Actually, what he’s talking about was thought by some geologists about forty years ago. But that’s an old wive’s tale. [76] It’s really been disproved. It’s been shown by a number of observational experiments as well as laboratory experiments that these couplets of layers, exactly as with the Green River oil shales, can be formed as events. And in fact, let me tell you about Mt. St. Helens, our research project there. One of those eruptions on the side of Mt. St. Helens sent a fluidized mud flow down the side of the mountain at about forty miles an hour…just a wave of mud. It was dry mud filled with gaseous material from the volcano, and it went down, whoosh! And laid down a deposit about thirty feet thick… full of many thousands of varved layers, just what he’s talking about at the Green River. But there’s more than one way to interpret a rock. He says those rocks talk, but they talk in different languages.

ZINDLER: You don’t have varves, John, at Mt. St. Helens [77] and you cannot produce these six million very fine layers over hundreds of square miles…in the one year of Noah’s flood!

MORRIS: Let me tell you something. Also in these varved layers where there might be a hundred of them in a few inches, sometimes there’s a fish fossil going right up through several of them…

ZINDLER: Yes! Absolutely. And why should that surprise you?

MORRIS: Thousands of years [78] while that one fish is just sticking out of the ground! [79] It would decay…

ZINDLER: Oh, no, no…these become covered…

MORRIS: They won’t decay in ten thousand years?

ZINDLER: If it was an anoxic environment, they won’t. This is why fish fossils are building up right now at the bottom of the Black Sea, for example. You have hydrogen sulfide and things like that that would prevent decay. As a matter of fact, when you look at those fish fossils…

MORRIS: Wait a minute! The fish fossils are truncating a number of different varves… [80]

ZINDLER: They are laid down so slowly that they cannot completely cover the skeleton all at once…

MORRIS: so slowly that that fish does not…

WOLFSIE: We’ll be right back…Keep going!


WOLFSIE: Okay, we’re back. Let me try to ask a more general question… Because I have a lot of questions. But John, why do you think, that for the most part, correct me if I’m wrong, that the churches in this country have somewhat retreated from a strict interpretation of the Bible. Is that fair to say that? If you go to a typical Protestant church and talk to them, they’ll say “well, evolution is a very nice…I mean, creationism is a very nice story, but we accept evolution.” Is that fair?

MORRIS: You know, I think there’s a whole shift in thinking right now. Back about 1960 or so there was hardly anybody, anybody, any scientist in particular, that believed in creation, young-earth creation. But since 1960 there are… many tens of thousands of scientists have said they rejected the evolutionary scenario and have come over to creationist thinking. [81] There are now hundreds of creationist societies around the country. And the polls that are taken of opinion in America show that something like 80, 85 percent of all Americans believe in creation; they have rejected… In fact, there are polls taken on university campuses today that show that over 50 percent of the college students believe in evolution [sic] and the professors are tearing their hair out saying what are we doing wrong? We can’t get them to believe they came from apes? Well, I’m of the opinion, you’ve got to go to school a long time before you believe you come from apes. That’s…that’s just illogical…We don’t…I’m here to tell you you don’t come from apes…

ZINDLER: You know, it’s funny. Here I am sitting in front of a man who’s 99 percent identical to a chimpanzee, 98.5 percent identical to a gorilla in his genes…

WOLFSIE: And so are you, too…

ZINDLER: …and I am too, sure…and he cannot see the obvious. Certainly, if the gorilla and the chimpanzee had been divinely created independent of humans, we would not see this. Not only is our DNA nearly identical…it’s packaged the same way…the chromosomes… [82]

MORRIS: Frank, you say, you say you’ve got the mind of god…you’re claiming…

ZINDLER: Well, I’m better than god. If I couldn’t do better than god, John, I wouldn’t be on this show…god can’t do anything.

MORRIS: Keep talking…I don’t have to refute that…Open your mouth and remove all doubt!

ZINDLER: So you are 99 percent chimpanzee…

WOLFSIE: Biochemically…

ZINDLER: Biochemically, in your genes…

MORRIS: What you’re saying is that if you were god, you’d have done a better job!

ZINDLER: Well, I certainly would!

MORRIS: Oh my goodness!

ZINDLER: How can you be 99 percent chimpanzee and not be related to the chimpanzee? [83]

MORRIS: Frank, you know as well as I do, that we’ve only identified a very small portion of the human genome…

ZINDLER: But you know how we do this, with DNA hybridization?


ZINDLER: Okay, now, not only …

MORRIS: The biochemical, molecular biology that is now…really the fossil record used to be the evidence for evolution…

ZINDLER: It’s now molecular…

MORRIS: Now molecular biology, the similarities between organisms…but you know? I’ll make a prediction. Scientists like to make predictions. For the last five years or so, the field of molecular biology has been thought to be a good …

ZINDLER: …a very good test of the fossil record… [ 84]

MORRIS: …a right jab, right cross, for the evolutionists. But now that the data is [sic] being published, my goodness! What we’re seeing is that every animal type …well, sure, monkeys are closer genetically to humans than are kangaroos. [85] But when you look at them, when you set them all out, every animal type is completely distinct, separate from each other. The isolation of every animal kind is what’s coming out of molecular biology. I would predict…

WOLFSIE: Which is within the creationist theme?

MORRIS: I predict that these studies from genetic engineering and molecular biology will be the falsification [86] of evolution theory in the next five years.

ZINDLER: Well, that’s whistling past the graveyard John. Molecular biology has been the most wonderful proof of what we’ve been saying all along. Chimpanzee hemoglobin is identical to yours, okay? Not only do we share many of these genes, we even share pseudogenes. [87] That is, god supposedly… if he did all the making of genes, copied erroneous genes that happen to contain the same error in apes and humans!

WOLFSIE: We’ll be right back… [Actually, this was the end of the debate.]


[1] The ellipsis (…) is used in the debate transcript (but not in the footnotes) to indicate an uncompleted thought, not words left out. When words in fact have been left out, some explanation in square brackets will be given. For example, the word ‘hubub’ is used to indicate moments when everyone was talking at once and it was impossible to determine what anyone said. Usually, such hiatuses were of no more than three or four seconds in duration.

[2] Morris’ evasion of Wolfsie’s question is understandable. Despite his several searches of Ararat, Morris has only strengthened the thesis that no oceanliner is to be found atop that volcano.

[3] ‘Faith’ is a difficult term to define, because of its shifting contexts in the Bible. However, it is safe to say that the famous verse, Hebrews 11:1 (“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” NIV) supports the common definition of faith as “belief without evidence, or even belief against the evidence.” Clearly, creationism requires unhealthy doses of faith. Evolutionary science, however, depends upon evidence, such as observable changes in fossil groups through time, molecular records of change, etc. Accepting ideas because of evidence is hardly an example of ‘faith’!

[4] Thomas Henry Huxley dealt with the problem of scientific enquiry into the past in his book Science and Hebrew Tradition, in the essay titled “On the method of Zadig” (1880). He gives an example of “retrospective prophecy” in astronomy:

“Thales, oldest of Greek philosophers, the dates of whose birth and death are uncertain, but who flourished about 600 B.C., is said to have foretold an eclipse of the sun which took place in his time during a battle between the Medes and the Lydians. Sir George Airy has written a very learned and interesting memoir in which he proves that such an eclipse was visible in Lydia on the afternoon of the 28th of May in the year 585 B.C.

“No one doubts that, on the day and at the hour mentioned by the Astronomer-Royal, the people of Lydia saw the face of the sun totally obscured. But, though we implicitly believe this retrospective prophecy, it is incapable of verification. In the total absence of historical records, it is impossible even to conceive any means of ascertaining whether the eclipse of Thales happened or not. All that can be said is, that the prospective prophecies of the astronomer are always verified; and that, inasmuch as his retrospective prophecies are the result of following backwards, the very same method as that which invariably leads to verified results, when it is worked forwards, there is as much reason for placing full confidence in the one as in the other. Retrospective prophecy is therefore a legitimate function of astronomical science; and if it is legitimate for one science it is legitimate for all; the fundamental axiom on which it rests, the constancy of the order of nature, being the common foundation of all scientific thought. Indeed, if there can be grades in legitimacy, certain branches of science have the advantage over astronomy, in so far as their retrospective prophecies are not only susceptible of verification, but are sometimes strikingly verified.

“Such a science exists in that application of the principles of biology to the interpretation of the animal and vegetable remains imbedded in the rocks which compose the surface of the globe, which is called Palæontology.”

[5] It is a pity that I had no opportunity to ask how the slowness of continental drift, say, and the width of the Atlantic ocean are compatible with the idea that the earth is young. More’s the pity we didn’t get to discuss how our ability to see galaxies millions of light-years away is compatible with a young universe!

[6] Since Morris will later deny that he ever claimed the existence of fossiliferous sedimentary rocks on Ararat, it is important to note that at this point he is tacitly admitting that he wrote about fossils on the volcano.

[7] It is conceivable that molten magma, as it works its way up through the sedimentary bedrock layers, could dislodge pieces of the bedrock, carry them up through the mouth of the volcano, and deposit them embedded in the lava flow. Such examples of one type of rock embedded in another are called xenoliths (Gk. xenos ‘foreign’ + lithos ‘rock’)

[8] Fossils in the rocks of which mountains are made were present in the sediments which, after hardening into rock, later were lifted up to form those mountains. Although they show that the material of which the mountain was made was once under water, they do not indicate that the mountain itself ever was under water. If fossils were found attached to the surface of the mountain, and it could be shown that they had not simply weathered out of the mountain rock itself, they could be taken as evidence that the mountain itself had been under water. Of course, given the extreme erosive force of the Noachian flood, it is hard to imagine any living things settling on top of any mountains, let alone remaining there for more than an instant.

[9] Morris’ memory is rather bad here. On pages 10 and 11 of The Ark on Ararat, by Tim F. LaHaye and John D. Morris (Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1976), we read: “A great deal of evidence exists indicating that not only was Mt. Ararat once covered by water, but it even erupted while submerged under great depths of water. In common with many mountains around the world, Mt. Ararat exhibits fossil-bearing strata. Sedimentary rock (by definition laid down by flood waters) containing the fossilized remains of ocean creatures has been found as high as the snow line, approximately a 14,000-foot elevation. Furthermore, on the exposed northeastern face, layers of lava are intermingled with layers of sediments.” [Quotation marks not in original] Readers will note that although LaHaye and Morris do not know how to define ‘sedimentary rock’ correctly, they do claim that such is to be found on Mt. Ararat!

[10] Nowhere in Morris’ paragraphs claiming the existence of fossiliferous rocks on Ararat is there any mention of a glaciologist, let alone any indication that the sedimentary rock claims are to be attributed to one. In fact, on page seven “Dr.” Clifford Burdick is described as being a “structural geologist from Tucson, Arizona.”

[11] After the debate, I photocopied pages 10 and 11 of Ark on Ararat and sent them to Morris, to let him know that I had been correct during the debate. In his reply to me, dated March 15, 1989, Morris appears to have forgotten that what was in dispute was whether or not he had ever claimed there were fossiliferous rocks on Mt. Ararat. Instead, he tacitly admits such a claim is in his book, but tries to get off the hook by attributing the “discovery” to fellow creationist Clifford Burdick:

“You will notice that in this whole section I am summarizing, in particular, the work of Dr. Burdick, who conducted a rather extensive geologic survey over the space of several summers. He not only has written that he discovered fossil-bearing strata, on the west flank of Mt. Ararat, but he has told me so personally, as have Dr. Lawrence Hewitt and Eryl Cummings…

“As you should well know, it is most proper for one scientist to quote from or refer to the work of others, refuting it or challenging it only when there is clear evidence of a mistake. I have no such clear evidence, and knowing most of the men referred to above, I am inclined to believe their evaluation…”

Again, the question was not who claimed to have found the rocks, but rather, whether Morris’ book claims there are sedimentary rocks on Mt. Ararat. Although the two paragraphs preceding the lines quoted above are indeed a quotation from “Dr.” Burdick [informed sources tell me that Burdick’s Ph.D. is from the “University of Physical Science” in Phoenix, an institution unknown to the state of Arizona and the local telephone company], they have nothing to do with sedimentary rocks on Mt. Ararat, and there is no reason to suppose the material I have quoted here derives from Burdick. Interestingly, the Burdick material contains some information which is devastating to the creationist claim that all the sedimentary rocks of the earth (with the possible exception of the most recent ones) were deposited during Noah’s flood. On page 10 Burdick is quoted as saying: “Apparently the Paleozoic-Mesozoic limestone complex which covered parts of the region was severely deformed, compressed, folded, and in places like the Ararat area domed up when the rising magma burst through.” When one realizes that the magma referred to is the material which formed Mt. Ararat, it follows that Paleozoic and Mesozoic rocks are older than Mt. Ararat which, according to page seven, was created on the third day of “Creation Week.” I am unaware of any biblical “evidence” showing that Noah’s flood occurred before the creation of the sun and the moon, and so we must conclude that most of the sedimentary rocks of the world were in place many months before god got around to drowning all the children of the world. If the Paleozoic and Mesozoic deposits-and of course the Precambrian rocks, which even creationists concede are the oldest rocks on the planet-are “pre-flood,” it would seem that the only rocks laid down during Noah’s flood are the rocks of Tertiary age (67-2 million years old). However, later in the debate Morris indicates that most Tertiary rocks are post-flood-leaving me to wonder what is left to have been deposited during the biblical deluge.

[12] Once again, since he found no evidence of Noah’s Ark, he must evade Wolfsie’s clear and specific question.

[13] Readers may wish to contemplate the impression Morris’ book would have had if he had included this admission at the spot where he claimed fossiliferous sedimentary rocks had been found on Mt. Ararat. How many true-believers would have swallowed his big-flood story if he had written “In common with many mountains around the world, Mt. Ararat exhibits fossil-bearing strata, although I have never been able to find any of them, despite the fact that I have looked for them every time I’ve been to the mountain. Sedimentary rock…containing the fossilized remains of ocean creatures has been found as high as the snow line, approximately a 14,000-foot elevation. Furthermore, on the exposed northeastern face, layers of lava are intermingled with layers of sediments, according to a creationist glaciologist.” [words in italics added to Morris’ actual text]

[14] This is an extremely important point in terms of its implications for the evolutionist debating a creationist. It is often claimed by creationists that the ‘mountains’ of Noah’s day were mere hills, and that the water needed to drown them could have been contained in a “vapor canopy” which collapsed at that time and has never reformed. Some neatly account for the disappearance of this water by postulating the late formation of the ocean basins, into which the flood waters “receded,” although why their drainage off the continents left no traces of erosion is never discussed. Morris traps himself by having both a ten thousand-foot Mt. Ararat and ocean basins created on day three of “creation week,” because this requires the equivalent of a shell of water nearly two miles thick somehow to be kept aloft in the pre-flood “canopy,” and it makes it impossible to imagine how a two mile-thick shell of flood waters could have “receded” and disappeared from a spherical planet.

[With the ocean basins in place already on day three, Morris cannot appeal to large volumes of water coming out of “the fountains of the deep,” since it would be the collapse of what is now the oceanic crust into the chambers from which the water erupted that would have formed the ocean basins. Of course, if there had ever been such things as the gargantuan “fountains of the deep” of which creationists speak, we would be able to see their scars on the ocean floor. In closing this footnote, we must observe that LaHaye and Morris really had no choice but to create the ocean basins on day three. There exist numerous forms of deep-sea fishes and other organisms that simply cannot survive in waters less than several miles deep. Since such organisms could not have evolved (according to creationist dogma) they had to have been present since the beginning-or at least since day three. If deep-sea fishes have existed since day three, it goes without saying that deep seas must be at least as old!]

[15] This is quite ironic in view of the fact that what Morris is about to say is not true! Considering the number of untrue statements Morris makes in the course of the debate, one can only wonder what he means by the term ‘honesty’!

[16] On page seven of The Ark on Ararat, we read: “Mt. Ararat was not always as it is today. In the very beginning, the Bible tells us, the entire world was covered with water and darkness. But on the third day of Creation Week, God called the waters together. He formed the ocean basins, and the dry land appeared. Neither the total amount of water nor the total amount of rock and soil needed to change, just their relative positions. As the water rushed to fill these newly formed basins, the land appeared. The deepening and widening of the oceans caused the land to shift, in places tilting and buckling. Mt. Ararat, along with most of the world’s mountains and mountain ranges, burst forth.” [The fact that most of the world’s mountain ranges are composed of Precambrian, Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and even Tertiary-epoch rocks seems to have been forgotten by Morris at this point. If these rocks were all created on day three (before the creation of the sun!), they could not also have been laid down during the year of Noah’s flood. Not only does this leave us with no erosional evidence of the flood, we are left with no depositional evidence either!

[17] Having apparently forgotten what he had written on page seven, on page 253 Morris tells us that “…even the highest mountains were covered with water. On the 150th day, the waters began to abate. Realistic assumptions show that the waters receded at an average rate of fifteen to twenty feet per day. But where did the waters go? Obviously the waters are now in the ocean basins. We can conclude then, that during the later stages of the Flood, the ocean basins were forming, widening and growing deeper as the ocean floors dropped. The waters rushed into these newly formed basins [Editor’s note: without eroding away the edges of the continents, and without leaving any sedimentary deposits!], and the land reappeared.”

[18] In Tracking Those Incredible Dinosaurs, on page 65 Morris alludes to the likelihood of fire-breathing dinosaurs. I rest my case.

[19] Although asked repeatedly for the source of the water, Morris never attempted to answer the question, despite the fact that in his ark book he mentions the vapor-canopy hypothesis. Perhaps he didn’t want the vapor canopy to collapse on television.

[20] This is very shocking. Morris here is advancing a “uniformitarian” philosophy-the exact philosophy accepted by evolutionary geologists. The doctrine of uniformitarianism holds that “the present is the key to the past,” i.e., that the same “laws” of nature acting now acted also in the past, and that like causes invariably produce like effects: in the past as in the present and future, e.g., fast-moving waters erode sediments, slow-moving waters deposit them. Later in the debate, Morris will attack the uniformitarian principle, forgetting how much he himself depends upon it.

[21] We can be quite certain that Morris would not have made such a statement if there were any evidence for a flood. If, as predicted by analysis of the text of the flood myth, we found the continental surfaces all stripped of sediments, the continental margins deeply eroded on all sides, and jumbled sedimentary deposits in the oceans surrounding each continent, I am certain that Morris would say he had “proof” of the flood. Lacking even a hint of evidence, however, the best he can do is to claim the “event” unprovable.

[22] The postulated biblical flood is considered by creationists to have been of truly catastrophic proportions, and most creation-believers think of themselves as being “catastrophists” instead of “uniformitarians” in the area of geology. Incorrectly supposing that uniformitarian geology allows only slow and gentle processes, they are forever on the lookout for “catastrophic” processes having geological impact today. Volcanic explosions and tidal waves are their favorite examples of the kinds of processes involved in god’s destruction of the antediluvian world. Alas for their self-image as catastrophists, creationists are at least a century behind the uniformitarians. Since the present is the key to the past, and since such “catastrophic processes” are part of the present, catastrophes of this sort were long ago integrated into the uniformitarian scheme of geology. It bears repeating: uniformitarianism basically means that like causes produce like effects-yesterday, today, and tomorrow. As to Morris’ contention that most rocks are the result of catastrophic processes, he may wish to consider the existence of rocks that are actually fossilized coral reefs-thousands of feet thick. Every inch of such rock shows the mundane results of corals precipitating calcium carbonate from the sea, interacting with their neighbors, dying, crumbling up, and being covered by their successors. Occasionally, one can see the “catastrophic” effects of ancient hurricanes disturbing the tropic tranquility of the rock record. But it is inconceivable that thousands of feet of coral rock could be the result of a single catastrophe-Noah’s flood!

[23] When we say that a certain star is “ten light-years away,” we are saying that it is so far away that it takes light ten years, travelling at a speed of 186,282 miles per second, to reach our eyes. Such as star is being seen as it was ten years ago, not as it is today. Indeed, if the star exploded right now, it would be ten years before we could “see” it explode. The fact that astronomers have detected galaxies and other objects that are billions of light years away shows that something existed billions of years ago, and that the universe did not begin in 4004 B.C.!

[24] In 1868 Thomas Henry Huxley wrote and delivered a lecture titled “On a piece of chalk.” One of the all-time classics of popular science writing, it describes the chalk rock so common in England and explains its gentle origin. More than a thousand feet thick in places, the chalk deposit stretches from England to Russia, Syria, Arabia, and Egypt, and is composed entirely of the fossilized remains of marine organisms. Most of the chalk is the slightly consolidated remains of Globigerina, a marine ameba that had a limey shell about one-hundredth of an inch across, and coccoliths, chalky objects ranging from 1/7000th to 1/1600th inches in diameter. Coccoliths are produced by marine algae and are accumulating today (along with modern types of Globigerina) at the bottom of the Atlantic ocean. Huxley gives a wonderful picture of the slow, non-catastrophic manner in which the chalk formed:

“We have already seen that the chalk is, in places, more than a thousand feet thick. I think you will agree with me, that it must have taken some time for the skeletons of animalculæ of a hundredth of an inch in diameter to heap up such a mass as that. I have said that throughout the thickness of the chalk the remains of other animals are scattered. These remains are often in the most exquisite state of preservation. The valves [shells] of the shell-fishes are commonly adherent; the long spines of some of the sea-urchins, which would be detached by the smallest jar [let alone a world-destroying flood!], often remain in their places. In a word, it is certain that these animals have lived and died when the place which they now occupy was the surface of as much of the chalk as had then been deposited; and that each has been covered up by the layer of Globigerina mud, upon which the creatures imbedded a little higher up have, in like manner, lived and died…

“There is more curious evidence, again, that the process of covering up, or, in other words, the deposit of Globigerina skeletons, did not go on very fast. It is demonstrable that an animal of the cretaceous sea might die, that its skeleton might lie uncovered upon the sea-bottom long enough to lose all its outward coverings and appendages by putrefaction; and that, after this had happened, another animal might attach itself to the dead and naked skeleton, might grow to maturity, and might itself die before the calcareous mud had buried the whole…”

Huxley describes a case where a sea-urchin (Micraster) lived and died and lost its spines. Before the bared shell could be buried by Globigerina shells, a shell-fish called Crania attached itself to the dead urchin. Like an oyster, Crania grows with a lower shell fixed to a rock (or a sea-urchin skeleton), and has an upper shell free. After attaching to the remains of the urchin, the young Crania grew to maturity, died, and lost its upper shell. Before the dead urchin and the Crania shell could be covered by Globigerina mud, however, a coral larva settled upon the Crania shell, attached, matured into a coral colony, spread over the Crania shell and grew over most of the remains of the sea-urchin shell-all of this occurring before the slow rain of Globigerina skeletons buried the entire “story in stone” in a delicate tomb of chalk! If Morris still doesn’t think that rocks can talk, a hearing test would seem in order.

[25] Morris here is being a uniformitarian again, despite his criticism of the principle!

[26] In his article “The fatal flaws of flood geology,” published in Issue No. 1 of Creation/ Evolution (summer 1980), Christopher Gregory Weber describes a sequence of 27 fossil forests buried, one upon the other, at Specimen Ridge in Yellowstone Park. The deposit shows that each time a forest reached maturity (the oldest trees in each layer are about 500 years old), it was buried by volcanic ash and debris coming from a nearby volcano. As happened recently at Mt. St. Helens, volcanic mudslides flowed through each forest, and trunks and branches left projecting from the volcanic material rotted away, while the buried roots and trunks became petrified in the positions they had held during life. Eventually, another forest would develop on top of the buried one, and the entire process was repeated 27 times. Since the oldest trees in each layer are about 500 years old, and because it takes about 200 years for volcanic rock to weather into forest-growing soil, it follows that each layer required a minimum of 700 years to form. Multiplying by 27, we find that this one formation alone represents at least 19,000 years of earth history-making it at least twice as old as the creationists’ earth! [Ignoring the biblical chronology, which says the earth was created around 4000 B.C., give or take a couple of months, some liberal creationists claim the earth could be as old as ten thousand years.]

Some creationists argue that despite the resemblance of each fossil layer to the deposits formed at Mt. St. Helens, only one forest is represented at Specimen Ridge, and that the trees were floated in by 27 successive tidal waves. They claim that just the right amount of dirt adhered to the roots of each tree to cause it to float upright, but not sink! Mineralogically, I know of no evidence of any soil particles differing from the volcanic material characteristic of the whole formation, which would be the case if the trees had been washed in from some place else.

Weber notes a completely lethal objection to the notion that all 27 layers represent a single forest that died in a single year. Since the growth-rings of trees preserve a record of the climate in which they lived, the climatic histories preserved in each tree in all 27 layers should agree exactly if all the trees died in the same year! Needless to say, the growth rings in the different layers cannot be matched up.

One final zinger. Weber cites the authority of flood geologist Harry Coffin to document the fact that growth-rings can indeed be seen in the fossil trees. This implies, Weber notes, that there were seasons and variations in rainfall from year to year before the flood. Creationists, in order to escape the embarrassment of rainbows existing before Noah got off the ark, have to maintain that it never rained before the flood.

[27] There is a principle in ecology known as “Liebig’s Law of the Minimum,” which states that it is the least abundant necessities, not the most abundant ones, that determine the degree to which organisms will thrive. In the cretaceous sea in which the chalk-forming Globigerina and other limey-shelled amebas (Foraminifera) lived, the most seriously limiting factor was the amount of sunlight that entered the ocean surface. The chalk-forming amebas being animals, they had to feed upon green and other algae, and the algae had to have light for photosynthesis. No matter how abundant other nutrients might have been in the water, the availability of sunlight set the ultimate limit to algal growth.

If the flood really occurred, with its earth-destroying rains, the amount of sunlight falling on the sea would have been greatly reduced, making it doubly impossible (!) for a thousand feet of chalk to form in one year. On the other hand, if god miraculously made the sun shine over the sea from England to Egypt and supplied – in one year – the amount of photosynthetic energy represented by the thousand-foot thick chalk deposit, the amount of radiation falling on the chalk-forming sea would have been so great that it would have sterilized the water and killed all the algae before they could “bloom”!

[28] It is a pity that we could not explore the problem coral reefs pose for the pseudoscience of flood geology. Under the best of circumstances-even during years when the earth is not being destroyed-individual corals can grow no faster than 0.5-1.0 inch per year. The coral reefs, formed from the breaking up and cementation of coral sand, grow much more slowly-perhaps less than a tenth as fast.

Weber reports [op. cit., pp. 29-31] that H.S. Ladd has drilled bore holes through the coral cap that crowns the volcano underlying Eniwetok atoll, in order to measure the thickness of coral that has grown there since the lava cone began to sink beneath the sea. At one point, Ladd had to drill 1380 meters (almost nine-tenths of a mile!) before reaching the lava lip of the volcano. It is inconceivable that that much reef could have formed in less than 130,000 years, let alone during the few dozen centuries since Noah’s flood (2348 B.C.). But then, it is also inconceivable that delicate corals could have escaped extinction in the unprecedentedly hostile environment of a world being destroyed by a god!

[29] According to Robert A. Moore [Creation/ Evolution, Issue XI, Winter 1983, p. 10], the volume of the the world’s oceans amounts to 1350 106 km3, and the volume of Phanerozoic (i.e., later than Precambrian) sediments is 654 106 km3. This is quite close to two parts water to one part sediment.

[30] According to Robert A. Moore [op. cit. , pp. 10-11], if all the known “fossil” lava flows had been produced during a single year, as creationists aver, the 3.65 octillion calories of heat released would have raised the temperature of the oceans by more than 2700° C – nearly one-half the temperature of the surface of the sun, which is less than 6000° C! At such a temperature, of course, there would have been no ocean for Captain Noah to sail upon, as all the water would have been converted into steam. This embarrassing problem can be avoided if, as Morris believes, almost all the Paleozoic and Mesozoic rocks were created as they are on day three of creation week, instead of during the one year of Noah’s flood (as Morris believes also). Why god would have created rock layers having the false appearance of great age, when in fact they were only a few days old, is a question creationists must now answer.

[31] There was no opportunity to mention the fact that Noah would have had to have taken aboard all the extinct species of animals as well. If the rocks in which their remains are now found were deposited during Noah’s flood, it means that they were alive at the time that Yahweh commanded Noah to take on board “of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee” [Gen. 6:19]. Since Noah is alleged to have obeyed Yahweh’s commands, we must suppose that dinosaurs, mammal-like reptiles, Archaeopteryx, Eohippus, Proconsul, Australopithecus, and all the other millions of once-living forms must have been on board and producing excrement for Noah’s family to shovel!

[32] The sentence “There is no such thing as an absolute negative” would appear itself to be an absolute negative!

[33] This principle, so basic in logic, is often very difficult for religionists to understand. The person who alleges the existence of something bears the onus of proof for the simple reason that an infinity of such claims is possible, and sane people simply cannot be expected to disprove an infinity of claims every day before being allowed to eat breakfast. Morris believes in the existence of one “triune” god, one devil, numerous angels, etc. I am sure he feels no obligation to “disprove” the claim that there exists one god, one goddess, and one celestial cow. Nor would he feel obligated to waste time in trying to disprove the assertion that there is one god who exists in not three, but _ persons (a ‘pi-ety’). Like me, Morris certainly would agree that the burden of proof is on the persons making such absurd claims. What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Morris has the burden of providing proof for his absurd claims also.

[34] We have already seen that there are millions of times more fossil algae and Foraminifera preserved in the chalk cliffs at Dover than could possibly have been alive at the same instant. The same problem is seen in the rock record throughout the world. If all the fossil species of horses, say, were resurrected at once, there would not be enough room for them on the same prairie. The problem is especially acute for marine forms such as clams and brachiopods, however. As Morris has admitted, there are “billions and billions” of them in individual rocks-far more than could have made a living on a single piece of real estate at one time! The great thicknesses of coal found in various regions of the world represent the greatly compacted remains of extinct species of ferns and trees. Alas again for the creationist hypothesis, if all the trees represented in a given deposit had lived at the same time, they would have stood trunk-to-trunk, many layers piled one upon the other. How they would have carried on photosynthesis is another problem for the creationists to solve.

[35] I was wrong to have agreed so quickly here with Morris. It turns out his knowledge of the Bible is as flawed as his knowledge of science. In the New International Version of the Bible (what I like to call the Jerry Falwell Bible) we read at Genesis 6:17, “I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish.” At Genesis 7:4 we read, “Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.” It is clear that if whales, corals, cacti, and AIDS viruses did in fact survive a Noachian flood, they could only have done so within the magically protected confines of Noah’s ark.

[36] It is amusing to accept this ridiculously low number and see how impossible Noah’s problems remained. Since there were only eight humans on the boat, if they never slept and worked round the clock for the 371 days of the voyage, each person would have had to feed, water, and clean more than four animals per minute in order to care for 50,000 animals! How they would have done this in the dark (electric lights did not exist, and candle flames would have blown the ark to kingdom-come when the ark filled with manure-generated methane), correctly remembering the peculiar dietary needs of each species, is but another mystery arising from the flood myth. How the Noah family found time to examine all the manure specimens – to avoid extincting precious species of dung-beetles, feces-feeding fungi, and the parasitic larvae needed to bless the post-flood world – before throwing them out is yet a further mystery.

Creationists sometimes claim that god must have placed the animals in a state of hibernation during the flood year, to allow the Noah family some time to sleep. Alas, this is both biblically and biologically impossible. In Genesis 6:21 we read that Yahweh said unto Noah, “You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them” [NIV]. While it is possible that the food was to be saved for use after the animals debarked from the ark (there would be nothing for any animal to eat after the destruction of the world), it is clear elsewhere in Genesis that the animals were not only eating during their cruise, they were fornicating! In Genesis 8:19 we read that ” Every wild animal, all cattle, every bird, and every reptile that moves on the ground, came out of the ark by families [New English Bible]. The Hebrew word mishpachah, which the NEB correctly translates as ‘family,’ is incorrectly translated as ‘kind’ in the King James Version. Curiously, the only place the KJV translates this word as ‘kind’ is in this particular passage. In 286 other places, the KJV translates the word as ‘family’; in nine places it is translated as ‘kindred.’ If it ever existed, Noah’s plague-ship was also an early version of “The Love Boat.”

There are other implications of Morris’ thesis that only 50,000 animals (i.e., 25,000 species ) were on the ark. If we have to account for all the species alive today (ignoring the enormous number of extinct species) from the few individuals taken on the ark, we have to have evolution occur at an enormous rate. To get the million species of living animals, in the 4337 years since Noah’s flood, animal species would have to be evolving at an average rate of 40 per year! Of course, creationists claim that an uncertain number of the million species survived on their own in the water, and so the number (by creationist reckoning) would be a bit less. Nevertheless, creationism implies lightning-fast evolution if for no other reason than that there are almost half a million species of beetles known. If Noah took only one pair of animals representing “the beetle kind” on board, beetles would be evolving at an average rate of 115 new species per hear – 9.6 new species of beetles per month! That would mean that for many types of beetles, evolution is proceding faster than the reproductive cycle!!

[37] The idea that different types of waters would remain stratified in the sea throughout the period of the flood can only be described as mad – i.e., a typical flight of creationist fancy. Some creationists postulate the formation of the very ocean basins themselves during the flood year. Imagine that happening without sloshing the water! Most creationists conceive of great “fountains of the deep” – underwater geysers of vast proportions – that contributed perhaps even more water to the earth’s destruction than did the forty days of rain. Nor should we forget the vast amounts of sediment that would be precipitating through the various layers of the ocean and mixing them up completely. And then there is Morris’ own idea of colossal tidal waves scouring and “curling” across the sea bottom and surface. There can be no doubt about it. Noah would have had to take both fresh and salt water fishes and invertebrates on the ark; suitable habitats for them could not have been maintained in the ocean.

[38] Notice that Morris evades Wolfsie’s question. He never says whether or not dinosaurs were on the ark, thus avoiding the problems associated with dinosaur husbandry in unventilated boats. Of course, his later opinion that dinosaurs survived until the Middle Ages implies the saurians must have been on the ark. By not answering Wolfsie’s question, Morris avoids dealing with many embarrassing problems.

[39] It is a generic characteristic of pseudoscientists that they often seize upon one myth in order to prove another. Bible scholars, however, give little support to Morris’s fanciful notion that the tannin of the Old Testament were dinosaurs. Gesenius’ Hebrew and English Lexicon renders the word “a sea monster, a vast fish,” “a serpent,” “a crocodile,” as well as “dragon.” Moreover, a study of Gesenius shows that tannin could also serve as an alternate plural for tannim-jackal! Gesenius also renders the word saraph in Isaiah 14:29 as ‘dragon’ in the phrase ‘flying dragon.’ If biblical dragons are dinosaurs, it is strange that no Tyrannosaurus or Brontosaurus skeletons are ever recovered with wing bones! John McKenzie, in The Anchor Bible volume Second Isaiah, indicates that tannin refers to the chaos monster of the Ugaritic creation myth. Finally, Mitchell Dahood, in The Anchor Bible volume Psalms II: 51-100, indicates that the chaos monster Tannin had seven heads, and that seven-headed dragons are depicted on Mesopotamian cylinder seals. Does Morris believe that the Babylonians got their ideas of seven-headed dragons from dinosaurs?!

[40] In his book Tracking Those Incredible Dinosaurs And The People Who Knew Them [CLP Publishers, 1980], Morris takes up the tradition of fire-breathing dragons, citing Job 18-22 and the story of “leviathan.” Verses 19-21 read: “out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap out. Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, as out of a seething pot or caldron. His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth.” Although Morris does not actually quote these verses from Job verbatim, he comments that “Fossil remains of certain dinosaurs fit this description” [page 65]. It is a great pity that I did not remember this quotation at the time of the debate!

Not only does science contradict Morris’ identification of dragons as dinosaurs, the Bible also contradicts his identification [also on page 65] of Job’s ‘behemoth’ as a brontosaur. In Job 40:16 we learn that behemoth’s “strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly.” Reptiles do not have navels!

[41] As far as I have been able to determine, no writings of Alexander the Great have survived from antiquity. Was Morris thinking of St. George, perhaps?

[42] If dinosaurs were alive in Noah’s day, he would have had to take them on the boat. If he saved the dinosaurs, why are they now extinct? Why don’t we at least find their remains in recent strata? Why are there no dinosaur skeletons with spear-points stuck in them? It is possible that when the dinosaurs got off the ark on the mountain top, sufficiently large crampons and nylon climbers’ ropes could not be found, and the megasaurs simply fell off the cliff and broke their necks at the bottom of the Ahora Gorge, a large cleft in the side of Mt. Ararat. I think the Institute for Creation Research should mount an expedition to check this out.

[43] According to Henry Morris, there were over a billion people living on earth at the time of the flood! [The Genesis Flood, p. 27] Although we find the skeletal remains of ostensibly antediluvian men and women, we never find even a trace of their cities or their tools made of bronze and iron (according to Gen. 4:22, Tubal-Cain “forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron”). Strange, is it not?

[44] Unlike leaves and flowers, pollen is nearly indestructible, and it easily finds its way into sediments. There are many sedimentary rocks that contain pollen and other plant spores, but their position in the geologic column is highly regular. In fact, one could trace the evolution of plants by means of the sequence by which their spores and pollen have entered the rock record. The creationist model postulates that all known types of plants were created at the same time, before the sun existed. With such antiquity, one would expect Cambrian rocks to contain spores and pollen relating to all known types of plants. Of course, this is not the case.

[45] Once again, Morris must evade an embarrassing question from Wolfsie. It will be remembered that Morris authored a book entitled Tracking Those Incredible Dinosaurs and the People Who Knew Them. In that book, Morris claimed he had found fossilized human footprints in the midst of Cretaceous dinosaur trackways along the Paluxy River in Texas. Not long ago, some “secular humanists” and other disbelievers in the existence of Alley-Oop induced him to recant his thesis that the tracks in question were human. John could no longer trot out the Paluxy tracks as evidence that Texas was once the home of Queen Umpadeedle and the rest of Oop’s friends. The tracks were the closest thing to evidence the creationists had ever found to support their crazy ideas. It was insensitive of Dick Wolfsie to ask such a question. How cruel can you get?

[46] This is a strange comment. Certainly, in the early stages the flood would have been a continental event as well, sweeping elephants and rhinoceroses down rivers and burying them with the clams along the continental margins. Given the enormous amount of water flushing life off the continents, we should find lots of land mammals floated to sea and deep-sixed in one gigantic deposit.

[47] It will be remembered that Morris supposes that the oceans would have been stratified during the flood, in order to keep fresh-water fish in fresh water, salt-water fish in salt water, warm-water fish in warm water, etc.! One wonders which one of these various layers of ocean water was affected by these tidal waves and scouring catastrophes, and how mixing of layers was avoided!

[48] One can only wonder if John has ever read his father’s book The Genesis Flood. On pages 160-1 Henry Morris writes:

“The great numbers of fossils entombed in the rocks are stressed repeatedly by Newell… One might, for example, discuss at length such marvels as the La Brea Pits in Los Angeles, which have yielded tens of thousands of specimens of all kinds of living and extinct animals (each of which, by the unbelievable uniformitarian explanation, fell into this sticky graveyard by accident – one at a time!); the Sicilian hippopotamus beds, the fossils of which are so extensive that they have actually been mined as a source of commercial charcoal; the great mammal beds of the Rockies; the dinosaur beds of the Black Hills and the Rockies, as well as in the Gobi Desert; the astounding fish beds of the Scottish Devonian strata, and on and on.”

[49] In The Genesis Flood, on page 160, Henry Morris gives as the source of this statistic an article by N.O. Newell, “Adequacy of the Fossil Record,” published in the Journal of Paleontology, Vol. 33, May, 1959, p. 492. A check of the reference shows that Newell did in fact write that “Robert Broom, the South African paleontologist, estimated that there are eight hundred thousand million skeletons of vertebrate animals in the Karroo formation. While such estimates, of course, are not highly accurate, they stress the vast difference between the known paleontological sample and the astronomic numbers of fossils remaining in the rocks.” Just how Morris “checked it out,” and what he found the correct number to be would be very interesting to know. Was Newell wrong? Was Broom wrong?

Broom is not the only person to remark upon the extraordinary abundance of fossils in the Karroo formation. The paleontologist Edwin H. Colbert, in his A Fossil-Hunter’s Notebook [Dutton, 1980, pp.163-4], writes “…in the Karroo… it seemed that everywhere we went we found fossils. All of which is some indication as to the abundance of fossil reptiles in the Karroo beds. I have never seen anything to equal the numbers of fossil vertebrates in the Karroo, except perhaps the prolific occurrences of Oligocene mammals in the White River Badlands of South Dakota. Wherever one goes in the Karroo there is a feeling of fossil reptiles at one’s feet – and more often than not the fossils are nearby…”

[50] Even if one were to accept the ridiculous creationist claim that “the rocks are used to date the fossils, and the fossils are used to date the rocks,” the charge of circular reasoning is not relevant to the present question. What we are hypothesizing is a single rock layer containing both human and dinosaur remains. Regardless of how the given rock might have been dated originally, finding both humans and saurians together would instantly invalidate the original dating.

[51] It is ironic that Morris should be so scornful of molluscs, since the most amazing example of connecting links between fossil species involves clams and snails from a 400-meter sequence of Plio-Pleistocene strata at Lake Turkana in Kenya. In those strata it is possible to catch several species of molluscs in the very act of changing into new species! The data were reported by Harvard’s P.G. Williamson in an article entitled “Palaeontological documentation of speciation in Cenozoic molluscs from Turkana Basin,” and appeared in Nature, Vol. 293, 8 October 1981, pp. 437-43.

[52] The evolution of the horse in North America is probably the most thoroughly documented example of vertebrate evolution. Many of the species and genera change so gradually from one to the next that it is often very difficult to decide how to classify a given fossil. It is often the case that some members of a single population have features resembling an immediately ancestral species and other have features characteristic of what later will be a daughter species. From Hyracotherium (Eohippus) to Equus (the modern horse), species boundaries melt before the spade, as connecting links between connecting links appear to confound the would-be classifier. This is exactly what one would expect if evolution has occurred, but it flatly contradicts Morris’ claim that there are no connecting links between “kinds” of animals. An excellent summary of the horse data can be found in James S. Monroe’s article “Basic created kinds and the fossil record of perissodactyls,” which can be found in Issue XVI (Vol. 5, No. 2) of Creation/Evolution, pp. 4-30 (1985).

[53] Morris here is indulging in the fallacy known as “the appeal to authority.” This is the fallacy most frequently used by creationists to dignify their cause and compensate for the absence of evidence.

[54] The phyla are the largest classification category after kingdoms, and they developed very early in the history of the earth. Most of the phyla had already separated from each other before the beginning of the Cambrian Period (about 600 million years ago). For reasons that are not at all clear, almost none of these groups left fossilized remains for us to study. When the Cambrian period began, fossils of these groups became plentiful, and from then on connecting links between the smaller taxonomic groups (classes, orders, families, genera) have become increasingly common. Fortunately, a comparison of the DNA of members of the various phyla, together with embryology, make it possible to reconstruct with increasing clarity the relationships among the phyla. In recent years, some fossil metazoans (multicelled animals) have been found in late Precambrian rocks, and we may expect that we will soon be able to check the findings of comparative biochemistry against the rock record. At any rate, we should note the creationist principle that either everything evolved, or nothing evolved. Since the evolution of the horse and humans can be demonstrated in an overwhelmingly convincing fashion, we cannot seriously doubt that the “basic body plans” (i.e., the phyla) evolved also.

[55] Between fishes and amphibians, we have such lung-breathing forms as Eusthenopteron, Sterropterygion, and other rhipidistian genera [See Jerome S. Rackoff’s “The origin of the tetrapod limb and the ancestry of tetrapods,” pp. 255-291 in: The Terrestrial Environment and the Origin of Land Vertebrates, edited by A.L. Panchen, Academic Press, 1980]. The transition between amphibians and reptiles is documented morphologically by Seymouria, which is classified as an amphibian or reptile by flipping a coin. The transition between reptiles and birds is documented by Archaeopteryx which, despite the creationist claim that it is “pure bird,” is really little more than a small, bipedal dinosaur with feathers. The transition between class Reptilia and class Mammalia is smoothly bridged, as we have seen, by the mammal-like reptiles (order Therapsida), with forms like Cynognathus (‘dog-jaw’) being very mammalian in appearance, and forms like Diarthrognathus (‘double jaw-joint’) for all practical purposes being reptile and mammal at the same time. So much for the lack of connecting links between classes!

[56] Although Morris doesn’t realize it, he is giving away the store with this concession. By admitting microevolution, he is admitting the reality of descent with variation (evolution). The same mechanism that drives microevolution drives macroevolution as well. Macroevolution is nothing more than the summing up of lots of microevolution. Biochemically, there is no known limit to the degree that DNA can change or that genes can be rearranged on chromosomes. Macroevolution simply involves more of these changes than does microevolution.

[57] A detailed account of the mammal-like reptiles (Therapsida) and the origin of mammals, giving lots of examples of connecting links, can be found in T. S. Kemp’s Mammal-like Reptiles and the Origin of Mammals [Academic Press, 1982].

[58] Morris is trying to compress 55 million years of horse evolution into a several-month period after the year 2347 B.C., the year in which biblical chronology indicates the flood ended. We have ample inscriptional evidence that horses were well-known at this time (indeed, before this time!), and it would appear that Morris is expecting evolution (and geological sedimentation) to proceed hundreds of thousands of times faster than hypothesized by any evolutionist – even when drunk.

[59] Once again, John seems to be at variance with his father. On page 161 of The Genesis Flood, Henry Morris reproduces an American Museum photo of a “fossil graveyard” containing remains of rhinoceros, camel, giant boar, and other mammals. Father Morris argues that this deposit is “water-laid,” the clear implication being that it was formed during the flood.

[60] Pleistocene deep-sea clay sediments up to 175,000 years old can be dated using the decay of protactinium-231 (half-life 34,300 years) into thorium-230. Sediments in which the mineral glauconite develops can sometimes be dated by potassium-argon dating, because potassium-40 from seawater is precipitated and incorporated into the glauconite.

[61] Many fossils up to 40,000 years old can, of course, be dated by carbon-14 methodology. It is hard to believe that Morris does not know this. If he does know this, we must wonder why he said these things.

[62] The original scheme for relative dating of fossils (i.e., deciding if something was of Cambrian, say, or Devonian age) was created by pre-Darwinian geologists who were still creationists! Consequently, evolutionary presuppositions had nothing to do with the dating of fossil forms. The sequence of geological periods was definable thanks to the regularity with which characteristic “index fossils” invariably succeeded each other in rock layers superimposed one upon another in England and Europe. It is obvious (to all but creationists) that deep-lying rock layers must have been formed before superficial strata (unless, of course, there has been faulting and mechanical displacement of strata), and so it is obvious also that the fossils in the deeper rocks must have lived before those entombed in the upper layers. It was this regular succession of fossil forms that first suggested that evolution had occurred. Of course, catastrophist geologists supposed that the changing faunas seen as one passed from stratum to stratum represented a series of divine (pre-biblical) creations, each ending by a catastrophe – of which the flood of Noah was but the most recent example.

[63] It is often the case that a given rock unit will contain a variety of minerals which in turn contain a variety of radioactive elements which can be used separately to date the unit and can be used as cross-checks. Thus, potassium-40 decays into argon-40, with a half-life of 1.25 billion years. (The half-life is the period required for half of a given sample of material to decay. If we started with a pound of potassium-40, after 1.25 billion years had elapsed we would have only half a pound. After another 1.25 billion years, we would have only a fourth of a pound, etc.) Rubidium-87 decays into strontium-87 with a half-life of 48.8 billion years; uranium-235 decays to lead-207 with a half-life of 0.7 billion years; uranium-238 decays to lead-206 with a half-life of 4.47 billion years; thorium-232 decays to lead-208 with a half-life of 14.0 billion years, etc. By measuring how much of each parent isotope is left and how much of each daughter isotope has been produced, it is possible to calculate how long a rock has been in existence. If all the different “clocks” yield approximately the same age, we can be quite confident that the rock system has been stable through time and has not been contaminated or lost material to the environment. If, however, each of the separate clocks gives us substantially different ages, we know that the rock system has been disturbed, and that it might not be possible to derive a reliable date from it. Most of the radiometric dating systems employed today have other internal methods as well for checking the reliability of results.

[64] Once again, Morris will evade Wolfsie’s question. Is it possible that he has become embarrassed to admit publicly that he thinks the earth is less than a hundred thousand months old?

[65] I cannot for the life of me figure out what fundamental fact of chemistry or physics Morris misunderstands in order to make such an egregiously incorrect statement. Radioisotopes are known that have half-lives ranging from on the order of minutes to billions of years. If the earth had been formed in 4004 B.C., radiocarbon dating would come close to showing the fact. Measurements with longer-lived isotopes, such as uranium-238, however, would essentially show the earth to be zero years of age – but no one would conclude from that fact that the earth was extremely old! The use of radioisotopes for dating is not in any way logically dependent upon a supposition that the earth is extremely old.

[66] Nor would any geophysicist or physical chemist!

[67] If these claims were true, they would be serious. Discovering the truth about the situation, however, was not easy – due to highly obstructionist behavior on the part of Morris. Since he did not give references during the debate to substantiate his outrageous claims, I wrote to him afterward requesting documentation. When he did not reply after a reasonable time, I called him on the telephone.

On the phone, Morris was very curt, saying he was in a hurry and didn’t “have time for chit-chat” with me. On the phone, he told me the upper lava dated at 2.5 billion years, apparently forgetting the 2.6 billion cited in the debate. He would not give me a specific literature reference, but noted that “the Arizona Geological Survey” had published a list of all rubidium-strontium radiometric dates for Arizona. Libraries in Columbus, Ohio, showed no publications whatever issued by any Arizona Geological Survey.

Two days after the phone call, Morris’ answer to my letter arrived. Containing the five-dollar bill I had sent him to pay for possible photocopying expenses, his letter of May 4, 1989, was short and to the point:

“Keep your money. The materials you requested are part of the public record and available in many places. I have no intention of doing your work for you.

“…You seem to want me to provide you with information that, if your track record is any indication, you will distort and use against me…”

Morris was correct to expect that the evidence in the case would be used against him. He was wrong to suppose, however, that there would be any need to “distort” it. The unvarnished truths of nature are always sufficient to give the lie to the branch of fundamentalist apologetics known as creationism.

Thanks to Professor Robert Dietz of the Department of Geology at Arizona State University, I learned that there is indeed such an agency as the Arizona Geological Survey, but that it was formed in the fall of 1988, and could not have published any of the materials referred to by Morris on the phone! It replaced the “Arizona Bureau of Geology and Mineral Technology,” which issued a periodical called Fieldnotes. Professor Dietz supplied material showing that the lava which Morris described as “one of the very earliest rocks down at the way bottom of the canyon” – the Cardenas lavas of late (not the earliest!) Precambrian age – was indeed about 1.1 billion years old. The lava flows “on the very plateau,” however, consistently date between 0.5 million years (the latest) and 1.5-2 million years in age.

By going through the various issues of Fieldnotes in The Ohio State University Geology Library, I discovered a reference to an “Open-File Report 85-18,” written by F.P. Florence and S.J. Reynolds, titled “Compilation of Rb-Sr, fission-track, isotopic-lead, and lead-alpha age determinations in Arizona.” I ordered a copy.

Before the Open-File Report arrived, however, I received a “care-package” of material from Dr. G. Brent Dalrymple, of the U.S. Geological Survey’s isotope geology laboratory in Menlo Park, California. In addition to a letter dated May 18, 1989, Dr. Dalrymple sent me what appears to be the immediate source of Morris’ claim: Impact article No. 178, written by Steven Austin of ICR. He also sent me copies of the original research papers which are misrepresented and distorted by Austin’s leaflet. Because it is the dating of the latest lavas that is most in question by Morris and Austin, I quote herewith Dalrymple’s comments thereon:

“The lavas of the western Grand Canyon are indeed young – less than a few Ma [million years]. There are some published K-Ar ages cited by Leeman (Table 2). [This refers to W.P. Leeman’s article “Late Cenozoic alkali-rich basalt from the Western Grand Canyon Area, Utah and Arizona: Isotopic composition of strontium,” which was published in the Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 85, pp. 1691-1696, Nov. 1974.] I have dated most of the lavas that actually spill into the Grand Canyon (unpublished K-Ar ages) and they are all less than 1 Ma.

“The Rb-Sr “isochron” on the young lavas is a typical creationist trick:

“1. One of the primary assumptions in the Rb-Sr isochron system is that the samples (lava flows in this case) must have originated from a common source with a uniform Sr isotopic ratio. The fact that these lavas have different compositions and are of different age means that the assumptions necessary for the application of the Rb-Sr isochron method (or any other isochron method for that matter) are not true. Based on the chemistry and geology alone, any competent geologist would know that a Rb-Sr isochron would be invalid.

“2. Austin has selected only a few of the data available. All of the data are plotted on Leeman’s Fig. 2a. Leeman has drawn a “reference isochron” of 1500 Ma [i.e., 1.5 billion years – which appears to have grown to 2.5 billion years when Morris spoke to me on the telephone, and 2.6 billion years when he was on television!] on this figure, a useful device for his purpose, but he is not so foolish as to claim that it has any age meaning. Note that nearly all of the data plot in an undefined blob at the lower left of the diagram. The exceptions are 4-5 points that stretch out to the upper right along the reference isochron. Austin has selected six points that conveniently fall more-or-less along Leeman’s reference isochron.

“3. Four of the points used by Austin involve lavas that are contaminated by older crustal material and so the “isochron” is really due to mixing of material of two different ages. This is apparent from some of the other trace element data, and Leeman makes this point clearly in his paper.

“Austin discusses mixing and contamination as a way to generate ‘false’ isochrons, but it is difficult to see how this rescues his underlying argument that the Earth is young.The only way to form a false isochron like the one he shows… is to mix the younger material with older material… So if the Earth is young, where did this older material come from?”

It is quite understandable that Morris would not want me to find the “data” on which he based his outrageous slander of radiometric dating. It is clear from his behavior that his motivations are religious, not scientific. Truth does not appear to stand very high on his list of priorities. Once again I must note the irony of his early exhortation that I had to deal with the issues more honestly!

[68] Fortunately, Dr. G. Brent Dalrymple of the United States Geological Survey has published a comprehensive, readable exposé of creationist tricks in the area of radiometric dating. It is titled “How old is the Earth? A reply to ‘scientific’ creationism.” It appears in the volume Evolutionists Confront Creationists, published as the Proceedings of the 63rd Annual Meeting of the Pacific Division, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Volume 1, Part 3, April 30, 1984. It is available from the California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA 94118.

[69] The word ‘varve’ traditionally has been applied to glacial lake annual deposits which form as alternating light- and dark-colored layers of sediment, each couplet being laid down in one year. The light-colored layer typically is made of coarser-grained material that is able to settle to the bottom even in the summer, when wave action keeps the lake well-stirred. The darker layer, containing abundant organic matter (including pollen), is composed of fine-grained material (produced in fall, winter, and spring) that is able to settle only when there is little wave action, such as in winter when the lake is covered with ice. The Green-River Shale deposits were not laid down in glacial lakes, even though they do show alternating light and dark layering, as well as organic inclusions indicating that the different colored layers were formed during different seasons of the year. Technically, the Green-River varves should be called “rhythmites.”

[70] I was trying to avoid a libel suit when I used the wimpy term ‘muddlement.’ In The Genesis Flood, Henry Morris goes to great lengths to explain away the annual nature of the deposits, trying to show that the layers result from cyclic precipitation of chemicals (Liesegang rings), shallow turbidity currents (six million in one year!), or other implausible mechanisms. This could be chalked up to simple ignorance were it not for the fact that Morris père repeatedly cites William H. Twenhofel’s Treatise on Sedimentation, a book which presents a highly detailed discussion of the Green River Shale – including such details as the presence of algal filaments on bedding surfaces, the presence of billions of shed arthropod exoskeletons on the surface of every lamination plane through considerable thicknesses of the shale, and other details incompatible with a flood origin. Twenhofel states that “in the Green River oil shales in the Uinta Basin, the organic muds were evidently subject to suncracking and scaling, and, in some cases, fragments of the scales appear to have fallen into suncracks.” [p. 409, Vol. 1, Dover Edition (1932, 2nd Revised), 1961] One can just imagine the area drying out to form mudcracks repeatedly during the flood! That an intermontain-basin lake might dry out repeatedly over the course of six million years is not too difficult to imagine, however.

It is inconceivable that Henry Morris was unaware of Twenhofel’s information when he wrote his obscurantist discussion of the Green River Shale. Even worse is the fact that he cites W.H. Bradley’s “The varves and climate of the Green River Epoch,” which appeared in U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 158 (1929). This paper mentioned the sunspot cycle and precessional rhythmicities of the laminations – facts quite incompatible with Morris’ thesis. Not surprisingly, Morris does not mention these facts, even though he has to know about them and must realize that they rule out his utterly mad thesis.

[71] My memory was faulty here. I should have said 26,000, not 20,000.

[72] The biblical genealogies generally tell how old each character was when he sired (“begat”) the next person in the list. Although there are a few places where the genealogies break down and estimates of elapsed time can vary by several years one way or the other, there is no way that the Hebrew chronology could allow a creation as early, say, as 4500 B.C. Whereas the creationists generally claim the Bible to be infallible, here they claim that some generations have been left out, and that the world is perhaps several thousand years older than what the Bible says it is! If generations have been left out of the Bible, is it not possible that sentences have been left out too? Sentences saying that Yahweh used natural selection to create the different “kinds” of animals?

[73] It is possible to fudge the biblical ages by a thousand years or more, depending upon which inerrant version of the scriptures one uses as a source of patriarchal ages. Thus, although the Hebrew Massoretic text (the text used by most English translations) gives the period from creation to the deluge as being 1656 years in duration, the Greek Septuagint version gives 2263 years. The Samaritan version (which represents a very early form of the biblical text) gives only 1307 years!

[74] The Bible would make one expect history to begin only after 2347 B.C., i.e., the end of the flood. No history before that date should survive outside the biblical myth.

[75] It is astonishing that the Egyptians, Chinese, and Sumerians did not notice the end of the world. Since the Great Pyramid of Cheops is quite a bit older than the flood, it is amazing that it has no water-marks in it! It is also surprising that there is a bristlecone pine tree which was 500 years old at the time of the flood and is still growing – despite Morris’ tidal waves and scouring action!

[76] This is simply false. There is no way a volcanic mud flow could mimic the detailed structure of the Green River varved shale. Not only does the formation cover hundreds of square miles, it contains more than six million very delicate layers. These layers, in addition to containing alternating layers of large- and small-grained mineral particles, also contain layers of algal spores and pollen. It is a rare volcano that produces pollen! Rare, too, is the volcano that lays down its mud deposits in thin layers that show rhythmic variations in thickness consonant with the known sunspot cycle rhythm!

[77] During the debate I did not note the irony of Morris appealing to a process using dry mud as a mechanism by which varves formed during a flood!

[78] A few moments before this, Morris correctly stated that the fish fossils truncated “several,” not thousands, of varved layers. Next he will claim ten thousand!

[79] I am uncertain as to what sort of fish Morris is thinking about here. The fish I know about occasionally stick their heads out of water, not the ground!

[80] We’re back down to “a number” again. I must have been asleep. I should have asked how a fish truncating a number of delicate laminations could have been produced by the jumble of a world-destroying flood.

[81] This is a gross exaggeration. There are several thousand creationists who have had some scientific training – very few with valid Ph.D’s, and almost none with degrees in areas of science relevant to the evolution issue. The 17th edition of American Men & Women of Science lists over 90,000 prominent scientists (i.e., “those who have made significant contributions in their field”), and there must be at least twenty times that many men and women employed in science. Of the 90,000 names listed, I have been able to find only six that are creationists! They are cited not for their “findings” relating to creationism, but for work they did before taking sick with the creationist encephalopathy. Of the 290,000 eminent scientists who have been listed in this reference during the eighty years of its existence, it is not likely that more than a dozen have been creationists.

[82] Not only are human genes virtually identical to those of the great apes, those genes are also arranged (packaged) on the chromosomes in nearly the same way! High-resolution analysis of the chromosomes from orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees, and humans show that 18 of the 23 pairs of human chromosomes are virtually identical to those of the common hominoid ancestor, with the remaining pairs differing slightly. The puzzling fact that humans have only 23 pairs of chromosomes whereas apes have 24 is beautifully explained by the discovery that human chromosome No. 2 is the result of fusion of ape chromosome No. 2p with No. 2q. (The banding patterns of the two ape chromosomes match up nicely with those in the two separate arms of human chromosome No. 2.) The details of ape and human evolution can be reconstructed by “undoing” the various translocations and inversions of chromosome regions that are visible in stained chromosome “spreads.” For details, readers are encouraged to read “The origin of man: a chromosomal pictorial legacy,” by Jorge J. Yunis and Om Prakash (Science, Vol. 215, 19 March 1982, pp. 1525-1530).

[83] When the creationist apologist Duane Gish was hit with this fact, he replied that “watermelons and clouds are both 99% water, but that doesn’t make them closely related.” While Gish is right about the watermelon, I think he’s wrong about the cloud. A cloud is mostly air, not water! Of course, the issue concerns not the chemical composition of humans and apes; rather, it concerns the recipe (the genes) telling how to make a person or an ape. While the recipes for apes and humans are nearly identical, the recipes for watermelons and clouds have no similarities that I can discover.

[84] It has occasionally been claimed that evolution science is “unscientific” on the grounds that it is unfalsifiable, i.e., that there is no hypothetical test one could perform which would prove the idea wrong. The instant case shows this criticism to be unfounded. It is quite conceivable that the evolutionary “tree” reconstructed from study of the biochemical attributes of living things would have produced a pattern utterly inconsistent with that reconstructed from the study of fossils and comparative anatomy. If that had happened, evolution science would have fallen apart. The evolution idea would have been falsified. Of course, the biochemical discoveries have overwhelmingly confirmed – not falsified – the picture of evolutionary relations that emerged in the first half of this century.

[85] Once again, it would appear that John has given away the store. Of course, “genetically” may not mean the same thing to him as it does to scientists!

[86] When it suits their fancy, creationists like to claim that evolutionary theory is unscientific because it does not satisfy the criterion of falsifiability. The disingenuousness of the claim is seen by John’s spontaneous suggestion that evolutionary theory will be falsified.

[87] For a gene to be functional, it must contain stretches of DNA devoted to control functions as well as segments coding for protein. Pseudogenes are genes which have lost their control segments and thus, although still coding for proteins, are of no functional significance. It is easy to understand how pseudogenes could have evolved by natural processes involved in gene duplication, but it is very hard to understand why a supposedly intelligent creator would give useless genes to any individual species – let alone put the exact same useless genes into apes and people alike!

Copyright ©1989 by Frank R. Zindler <fzindler>.

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