Sunday, July 9, 2017

Snelling’s Folly

Creationist uses Trump order to get permission to take rocks from Grand Canyon

Geologist Andrew Snelling sued US Department of the Interior when it initially turned down his plan to prove the Bible’s great flood story is true

The Guardian 


An Australian geologist who is trying to prove the existence of the biblical great flood will be allowed to collect rock samples from the Grand Canyon.

Andrew Snelling was awarded a PhD by the University of Sydney in 1982 and is the director of research at Answers in Genesis, a Christian science group that believes in the literal interpretation of the Bible. 

On Friday, News Corp reported that Snelling’s Grand Canyon research project had been approved after he agreed to drop a lawsuit against the national park’s administrators. 

Snelling had sued the US Department of the Interior in May alleging religious discrimination after his proposal to remove 50 to 60 “fist-sized” rock samples had initially been rejected for lacking scientific merit. 

His lawyers argued the park violated a recent Donald Trump executive order expanding religious freedom, while Snelling told the Australian that the administrators “turned me down because­ they didn’t like the question I was asking”.

However, Dr Gilles Brocard, a postdoctoral research fellow in geology at the University of Sydney, said the scientific evidence was incompatible with Snelling’s hypothesis. 

“We know what the impact of extremely large floods on Earth are,” he said. “We know they happen sometimes, we have glaciers that have big ice dams that have a very distinct signature on the landscape.

It produces extremely special features that you’re able to identify. 

“These are just normal rocks, they are mundane. They do not show traces of catastrophe.”

Brocard said nuclear dating had found rocks in the Grand Canyon that were 2bn years old, and that the age of the Earth was between 4.45bn or 4.47bn years old.

“All the methods are concurrent, there are no contradictions. The only contradictions have been in the age of the canyon itself. Twenty years ago, people had the view that it formed around 20 million years ago, but more recently they think it may have formed in the past 5 million.

“But this is a debate that is completely distinct from [Snelling’s] debate, which is to say it formed in the past 20,000 years.”

Brocard said he could not comment on the full value of Snelling’s study until he released more details, but that the possibility of a great flood had been discussed before. 

“Until the 19th century there was a debate on whether the great flood occurred. I did my PhD in the Alps, and in the 19th century they discovered all these big erratic boulders. Geologists asked if they were the result of a great flood, but they soon realised they were the result of glaciers.”

“From what I understand [Snelling] is trying to show that these rocks didn’t form slowly over geographical times, but that they formed very quickly. I suppose he wants to show that the rocks formed over the past 10,000 years, with some kind of deluge.”

Snelling told the Australian that he would make the results of his study public, and that “even if I don’t find the evidence I think I will find, it wouldn’t assault my core beliefs”.

“The Australian Aborigines have stories about a great flood. You find similar stories in China. It’s all circumstantial but … I believe the Bible is a record given to us by God and what I read in the Bible really ­occurred.”

Snelling and Answers in Genesis have been approached for comment.

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