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Comments

Ed Darrell

To what gathering of scientists has Dr. Austin presented his findings?

Or is this one more "advance" in science that the creationist/ID folks are keeping secret from every other scientist?

cwv warrior

Welcome back, Dory! Missed you but wasn't worried yet. I love the "real life" remark! That is how it feels...yet I do appreciate my space (no 'y')friends : )
Thank you for the catastrophe link...First learned about all that when we traveled out west to Yosemite, Grand Canyon and the mesas. We prepared a speech about the opposing theories. The parks were completely into the erosion thing. It was annoying! Just another something to shrink our minds and our world.

Dory

Ed,
I notice that often when scientists who believe the Genesis account of creation present their work, the immediate reaction is to question the credentials of the scientists rather than engage them directly on their work or their ideas. Your question is a fair one, however, and I contacted AiG for Dr. Austin's publications and presentations, which clearly illustrate that he is well-credentialed and certainly not, as you suggest, keeping his work secret from other scientists. Perhaps knowing this information, you will now give his ideas due consideration--unless, of course, your own prejudices prevent you from doing so.
Dory

The response from AiG:
Dear Dory,

Thank you for contacting Answers in Genesis. Dr. Austin has a B.S. from the University of Washington, M.S. from San Jose State University and Ph.D. from the Pennsylvania State University, all in geology. His professional memberships include the Geological Society of America, the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, the Society for Sedimentary Geology, the International Association of Sedimentologists. He has had professional, peer-reviewed projects at Mt. St. Helens and within the Grand Canyon. Current research is being conducted on mass kill of nautiloids within the Redwall limestone of the Grand Canyon, radioisotopes of Grand Canyon rocks, and earthquake destruction of archaeological sites in the Kingdom of Jordan. In 1999, Dr. Austin published research in the prestigious, peer-reviewed journal International Geology Review.

Some of his publications are:

TI: Floating logs and log deposits of Spirit Lake, Mount St. Helens Volcano National Monument, Washington.
AU: Austin-Steven-A
BK: In: Geological Society of America, 1991 annual meeting.
BA: Anonymous
SO: Abstracts with Programs - Geological Society of America. 23; 5, Pages 85. 1991.
PB: Geological Society of America (GSA). Boulder, CO, United States. 1991.
PY: 1991
DT: Abstract; Serial; Conference-Document
AN: 1995-060180

TI: Modern catastrophic processes at Mount St. Helens and their implications for the stratigraphic record.
AU: Austin-Steven-A
SO: CSPG Reservoir. 12; 5, Pages 1-2. 1985.
PB: Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists. Calgary, AB, Canada. 1985.
PY: 1985
DT: Abstract; Serial
AN: 1985-067902

TI: Rapid erosion at Mount St. Helens.
AU: Austin-Steven-A
SO: Origins (Loma Linda). 11; 2, Pages 90-98. 1984.
PB: Geoscience Research Institute. Loma Linda, CA, United States. 1984.
PY: 1984
DT: Serial
AN: 1985-047661

TI: Nautiloid mass-kill event at a hydrothermal mound within the Redwall Limestone (Mississippian), Grand Canyon, Arizona.
AU: Austin-Steven-A; Wise-Kurt-P
BK: In: Geological Society of America, 1995 annual meeting.
BA: Anonymous
SO: Abstracts with Programs - Geological Society of America. 27; 6, Pages 369. 1995.
PB: Geological Society of America (GSA). Boulder, CO, United States. 1995.
PY: 1995
DT: Abstract; Serial; Conference-Document
AN: 1996-038891

TI: Isotope and trace element analysis of hypersthene-normative basalts from the Quaternary of Uinkaret Plateau, western Grand Canyon, Arizona.
AU: Austin-Steven-A
BK: In: Geological Society of America, 1992 annual meeting.
BA: Anonymous
SO: Abstracts with Programs - Geological Society of America. 24; 7, Pages 261. 1992.
PB: Geological Society of America (GSA). Boulder, CO, United States. 1992.
PY: 1992
DT: Abstract; Serial; Conference-Document
AN: 1993-003762

Bodie Hodge, M.Sc.
Manager, Answers Department/Speaker
Answers in Genesis

Ed Darrell

Thanks for the references, Dory.

I wasn't questioning Dr. Austin's credentials, please note. I only asked why he's not making the case to geologists that he's making to churches.

And I still wonder about it. I had thought there were new publications, but that doesn't appear to be the case. When I reviewed his work on Mt. St. Helens previously, I discovered that he doesn't make the case that all of geology is in error in those publications, the way he appears to make it for religious groups.

In short, he's not telling the same story to both groups. What he publishes to scientists does not support a claim that the incidents in Washington make a case for rapid, catastrophic geology that duplicates the long erosion time-line of the Grand Canyon, for example.

Specifically, in the Grand Canyon there are at least three different examples of volcanic events similar to that at Mt. St. Helens, separated by several millions of years of sedimentary deposits. Yes, a lot can happen in one event -- but even when that one event has been buried for a few hundred millennia, a good geologist can determine that it was one event a long time ago.

It bugs me that people tell different stories to different audiences like that.

Dory

Ed,
You are making a charge here that is difficult to respond to without hearing the specific examples of what you are saying. Perhaps you can tell me when he made the claim before Christian groups that "all of geology is in error" so I can review it?

It is very understandable, though, that a presentation to a scientific research society would be different than a presentation to a Christian audience in which most people have only a general knowledge of science.

As an example, let's say a paleontologist is making a presentation at a scientific meeting. She is going to make a specific and thorough presentation of a particular find and her observations of it. If appropriate, she might also comment on how this finding challenges current understanding on the specific point it addresses.

However, if this same scientist was addressing an audience interested in learning more about atheism, she might give a talk summarizing her work and explaining why she believes her work, and that of other scientists, contradicts the claims of Christianity or other religious claims. This is perfectly reasonable, and if she gave this second audience the same presentation she gave to the scientific society, few in the audience would have the background to benefit from it. Such a presentation at a scientific conference, however, that relates her scientific work to her religious beliefs, would be completely inappropriate.

In other words, one venue is appropriate for a specific presentation of scientific data and a limited amount of interpretation of that data, and another is appropriate for a more broad analysis of a larger amount of information or for applying her scientific thought to other areas, such as philosophy or religion.

That does not mean that this hypothetical scientist, nor Dr. Austin, should be contradicting themselves before these different audiences, however it is completely understandable that they would be making a "different case" before each, and a broader case before the second audience.

By the way, I do not know that Dr. Austin has ever attempted to make the case that "all of geology is in error." He certainly does not in the DVD I was reviewing here, but rather addresses subjects that are covered in the works cited above, including, for example, the deposits formed by the upright floating logs and in Spirit Lake. He has merely made the case that in these specific instances evidence is found to support catastrophic models that challenge gradual models in geological formations. Catastophic models, by the way, that are gaining ground among secular geologists as well, simply because evidence such as this supports it.

In your first comment you asked if he was keeping his work a secret from scientists and asked if he was presenting his material before scientific groups. Now, after I shared information that shows that he does present his work, you claim to know about those scientific presentations and about his presentations before Christian audiences. I am wondering why, if you know about these presentations and have reviewed them, why it is you left a comment asking if he made them? This is not a new DVD, nor are its claims new. I just happen to have recently seen it.

Ed Darrell

Dory,

In his several pieces of the Institute for Creation Research, Austin says quite explicitly that his work supports the idea of a great flood of Noah -- though, of course, a volcanic eruption for several reasons does not at all support a flood conclusion. In these articles he's freely admitting his intent to find evidence to support creationist conclusions against science (standard geology falsified the idea of a great, world-wide flood in the 1830s; see Rev. Adam Sedgwick's address to the Royal Society in December 1831, detailing how and why geology abandoned the idea of a great flood). No such line appears in any of his submissions to scientific publications.

While one may tailor remarks a bit for an audience on some issues, scientists do not make a practice of that. The data don't change. It's considered dishonest in science to change remarks like that -- and if research is federally funded, it can be a crime. It would of course help creationism out were Austin to make a case for creationism at a science meeting -- but he's not doing that. Why not? Isn't that what he tells the religious groups he's trying to do?

Go to see this piece, for example, and note especially the conclusion: http://www.icr.org/index.php?module=articles&action=view&ID=261

I had mistakenly thought, from your original post, that Austin had some new stuff. His old stuff has all been debunked. Had he had anything new, I wondered why he was keeping that secret. It's now clear that he's not got anything new.

Ed Darrell

Sorry for posting again so soon; but, as I searched for examples of Austin's odd claims about the Grand Canyon or Mt. St. Helens, I saw a piece he'd written after the Boxing Day tsunami in the Indian Ocean. (http://www.icr.org/index.php?module=articles&action=view&ID=901) In it he refers to some odd formations in Nevada: "Impacts of much larger proportions struck when most of the continent was under water, probably during Noah's Flood. Across a 10,000 square kilometer area in southern Nevada, disrupted limestone blocks and as many as five graded beds occur, as if great tsunamis sorted debris by size.14"

That pretty fairly suggests the work of another geologist supporting a flood of Noah conclusion. But of course, the other geologists work does not support that creationist idea.

The footnote goes to Warme, J. E., and H. C. Kuehner, 1998, Anatomy of an anomaly: The Devonian catastrophic Alamo impact breccia of southern Nevada: International Geology Review, 40:189-216.

That particular reference is not available on line, but a quick check finds other pieces on the same topic by the same author, such as this one: http://www.geotimes.org/jan04/feature_Alamo.html

Go take a look. Warme refers to a strike on Earth 370 million years ago, in a shallow sea. There is nothing supporting the idea of a flood.

Austin has used bait-and-switch in his notation. I have no doubt that, were he challenged by any geology ethics panel, he'd claim that the two sentences are separate and not to be conflated.

It could be that Dr. Austin thinks he's tailoring presentations to his audiences. Tailoring may include which parts of conclusions to present, or perhaps which sources to represent. But it is ethically unsound to tailor the conclusions section of one's paper, or to misrepresent the conclusions of others, even if such misrepresentations are done by ambiguity.

Do not take my word for it. Check out Austin's sources. If one reads the papers by Warme, one gets no support for a literal Noah's flood. If Austin does not accurately note that in the papers he cites, he's being dishonest.

Tom Jackson

Uhh, wait a minute.

Geologists have known for a long time about volcanoes, mud slides, floods, and other events that deposit layers of mud and rock very quickly.

So it seems very unlikely that the broad consensus of scientific opinion is that all strata are deposited very slowly.

But that is what you are refuting, so I have to believe that (a) geologists are really really stupid, or (b) the argument you're refuting is not genuine, but simply another creationist straw man.

Or, more bluntly, another creationist lie.

Dory, I'd have much more respect for creationists if you would actually talk to some legitimate scientists, and take the trouble to learn and understand what the actual consensus of legitimate scientific opinion is, and then refute _that_.

Instead, you make up your own fake science, call it evolution or geology or paleontology or whatever, and then pretend that your arguments against your own baby-talk simplifications are valid arguments against the real thing.

You're being dishonest here, and when you start telling people about big things -- resurrection, salvation, eternal life -- they'll remember your dishonesty in the little things.

Dory

My, what a lot of response to a one paragraph review of a DVD!

First, to Ed, if it was proper for "Geology" (which you speak of as if it was a unified entity with no disagreement or dissention), to make the decision to "abandon the idea of a great flood" in 1831, does that mean that this thing called geology cannot at any other time properly consider the matter or study it? How fortunate we are that Biology did not take such a stance on the issue of spontaneous generation!

Further, being a scientist does not mean one is ethically bound to withhold all opinion or expression of belief on all other subjects or in all other situations. Scientists who believe in a naturalistic explanation for origins of the cosmos or of life are not so restricted. Just read Gould. I doubt they express their philosophy often at scientific conferences when they present their research, but they certainly do so in their books for the general public and in opinion pieces. I have no problem with them doing so. But science does not belong only to those who espouse materialism. It belongs to all of us. Austin does not make a secret of his philosophical beliefs, he states them openly and even aligns himself with a Christian organization. There is no dishonesty in this.

By the way, do you know of a scientific society that has issued an invitation to Dr. Austin to address the broad topic of creation that he has turned down? One doesn't simply place oneself on the speakers list at scientific meetings, you must know.

Also, those believing in materialism make no bones (no pun intended) about their desire to learn more about evolution and study it and find evidence for it. One can even get a PhD in it. Yet when a theistic person seeks to learn more about and find evidence for a divine creation, they are called dishonest and have their motivations questioned. You even imply it may sometimes be criminal. Both theories assume philosophical presuppositions that cannot be proved or disproved by science, yet some claim that only one is acceptable within science. Why? Because you said so? Because a majority says so?

Is it really good science when we are allowed to seek out evidence for something (such as evolution), but we are not allowed to seek out evidence against it? This is the impartiality of science?

As for the footnote you quote, (Austin is the second author on that paper, by the way.), the footnote is clearly appended to a particular statement of fact, not to the statement referring to the flood that preceeds it. The next sentence also contains a footnoted statement of fact. It seems to me that any reader seeing that paragraph would assume that the first footnote indicates the source for the information in that sentence and the second footnote for the fact in that sentence. My husband's work is sometimes cited in papers, and I don't believe he was ever asked if he agreed with the conclusions the authors of those papers came to, nor would anyone assume he did so just because of the footnote.

To Tom, I believe it is you who has constructed a straw man here. When did I argue at all about any of Austin's claims? (I only stated that he made some claims.)When did I or Austin say that "the broad consensus of scientific opinion is that all strata are deposited very slowly"? You are accusing me of dishonesty because of claims or arguments that I never made and don't believe.

I posted a simple review that recommended a source of information and then, addressing comments that followed, defended a scientist's right to hold to a particular philosophical or religious belief system and reflect that belief in appropriate contexts.

Further, I never claimed to be a scientist or a creationist, nor addressed any specific scientific claims. But your next logical fallacy is to tack that label on to me and then generalize about what you believe other "creationists" have done and then conclude that I am dishonest.

I have only ever claimed to be a Christian who believes the testimony of the Bible. Does this disqualify me from reading or recommending materials that relate to science? If another non-scientist blogger on another site recommends a DVD about evolution are they dishonest too?

I am not scientifically illiterate, however, and in spite of your condescending comments, I am intelligent enough to evaluate scientific information and opinion, including knowing when I do not have enough information or expertise to reach a valid conclusion. I do, in fact, "talk to scientists". I am married to one, and I am well aware of the process by which scientific research is conducted, published, and reported.

As to understanding consensus of scientific opinion and then refuting that, isn't that what Dr. Austin is doing? You may disagree with his conclusions, but he is doing exactly what you suggest. And he's being called dishonest for it and I'm being called dishonest for reporting that he's doing it.

If two people who are qualified scientifically want to debate the actual substance of Dr. Austin's claims, or the claims of other Bible-believing scientists, I will be happy to host the debate. Anyone reading is invited to email with me if they qualify and have an interest in debating. But let's stop all these petty attacks on this man's character.

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