Every now and then an article comes along with such fun implications for the origins debate that I can't let it pass without comment. Cast your eyes over the following piece on the Daan River Gorge in Taiwan:
Taiwan's 'vanishing canyon' erasing quake record
BBC News, Science & Environment
18 August 2004, by Jonathan Webb
Webb's article is interesting on it's own. It's worth a read even if you disagree with everything I'm about to say next. Photos in the article are excellent. Webb's flood video demonstrates the massive power behind large amounts of moving water.
In 1999 an earthquake triggered a seismic uplift blocking the river and forming a natural dam. Water backed up until the dam was breached in 2004, the released water cutting a gorge that grew by 2008 to be 1200 meters long and 20 meters deep. (That's 3/4ths of a mile and a bit over 65 feet for my U.S. readers).
Regular and violent flooding events occur on the Daan River. These flooding events trigger rapid erosional episodes. The newly-formed gorge is expected to be gone without a trace within fifty years -- not millions of years, just fifty. That's a remarkably short lifetime
Three statements in Webb's article caught my attention. The first is when he quotes Dr. Kristen Cook, the scientist behind the study Webb is writing about, as saying:
"We can see processes that you can't reconstruct."
What a strikingly-clear admission of a point creationists make time and again about past events: You can't repeat them! Ken Ham speaks to this point in his five-minute, opening remarks in the Bill Nye - Ken Ham debate that took place in February. The written transcript shows Ham saying:
"When you are talking about the past, we like to call it origins- or historical-science. ... When you research science textbooks being used in public schools, what we have found is this: by and large, the origins, or historical science is based on man's ideas about the past."
Bill Nye completely misses Ham's point in what seems almost a deliberate attempt at being obtuse. Nye brings up the well-known television show CSI, in which forensic science plays a prominent role:
"And on CSI, there is no distinction made between historical science and observational science. These are constructs unique to Mr. Ham. We don't normally have these anywhere in the world except here."
Dr. Kristen Cook totally gets what Bill Nye misses. She knows she cannot, say, fill in the Grand Canyon and trigger the precise same erosional process that created the canyon for a second time. What she can do is to study and characterize results from erosional events occurring regularly today, and then use what she's learned to constrain the possibilities for the Grand Canyon's formation and make educated guesses as to how that canyon has formed. That's good science.
Millions of Years, Really?
The next statement relates to time. After describing the rapid formation of the Daan River Gorge, the article segues to a comparison with the Grand Canyon in Arizona and quotes Dr. Cook as saying:
"That's one of the exciting things - we expect the process to be the same, but sped up."
"The same, but sped up". What exactly does that mean? It can hardly mean that slow burbling water carved the Grand Canyon, whereas ferociously fast-moving water has carved the Daan River Gorge. Without the fast-moving water, the sort of carving seen in either canyon won't likely exist.
A more plausible interpretation of "sped up" is to suggest that erosional events are occurring more frequently in the Daan River Gorge. But do we really know that such is the case? Or is that an assumption on Dr. Cook's part? Do we really even know what she means by "sped up"? Not really, not without asking follow-up questions.
The final statement of interest is the caption to the colorful image of Arizona's Grand Canyon near the end of the article, and it relates to assumptions. There the author states:
"Erosion of gorges has been difficult to study because normally it would take centuries or even millions of years, like the ancient Grand Canyon in Arizona, US"
"Because normally it would take centuries or even millions of years." Wow! Now that's an assumption. There are no eye-witnesses to the Grand Canyon's formation. Canyon formation for which we do have eye-witness accounts tends to be rapid. Some examples:
- Canyon Lake Gorge in Texas formed in just three days during 2002 when heavy rains sent water over the spillway of a dam.
- Daan River Gorge we've learned formed in very short order in 2004, growing deeper until hitting a depth of 20 meters in 2008.
- The Toutle River Gorge at Mount St. Helens formed in a single day on March 19, 1982.
I won't argue that the Grand Canyon formed in one day, but I will argue that canyon-forming events as we see them occurring today are rapid events. Why then must the Grand Canyon take millions of years?
The Written Record
A cataclysmic global flood and its aftermath provides the needed water and ferocious energy to form the Grand Canyon, and other canyons too, in short order. The flood was a violent, global event. After effects include violent regional events such as the Lake Missoula Flood responsible for creating the Channeled Scablands and shaping much of the Pacific Northwest.
We don't have an eye-witness account of how the Grand Canyon formed. What we do have is a reliable eye-witness account of the global flood, and that account gives the general shape of Earth's history and timeline. Millions of years did not occur.
The Lake Missoula flooding was missed for decades by mainstream scientists who had thrown out the reliable history of Genesis in order to lock themselves into a millions of years mindset. Just one man stood alone through decades of ignorance that would have been prevented had history been respected. (Truth is not a majority vote).
Don't make the same mistake as all those scientists. Interpreting Earth's geologic history within the constraints of the accurate written record of Genesis will get you to the truth a lot faster.
Read my post on Historical Science for more on the important-to-understand difference between investigating past events and performing repeatable experiments in the present.