Folded rocks question

Enjoyed the articles. One follow up question: If the future rocks were still soft when folded, wouldn’t the layers wind up disappearing as the pressure squished (to use a technical term:wink:) the mud together, sort of like modeling clay or playdough and thus eliminate the strata as it extruded the mud?
It seems to me that the fact that the strata exist at all rules out Snelling’s ideas.

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Thanks for the articles, Bill. I have read those, and I don’t think they answered my questions? Or I don’t understand enough geology to see them answering my questions. Either of those is a possibility. :slight_smile: They are good articles though!

@Christy, it’s the Tapeats Sandstone in Carbon Canyon (of the Grand Canyon).

I think @jpm has a good point about the strata.

I just checked the AIG site and Dr. Snelling has an article on this. Surprisingly what he didn’t address is what caused the soft layers to fold in the first place. How was force applied to bend these soft layers and not destroy them?

And he also says this

And yet there are photographs showing layers that were eroded by a river and then filled in by later deposits.

Wikipedia has a nice article on folding.

Which after reading makes you question why Dr. Snelling would say

given heat and pressure is not always required. He acts as if there is only one explanation when in reality there are many.

From Jeff Greenberg, geology professor at Wheaton:

The kind of folding the YEC continues to use as “evidence”, is the very high-level crustal sedimentary buckling and slumping. When this depositional or early post-depositional wet-sediment deformation occurs, there is fluidity and no real brittleness in the material, i.e., no cracks. The terrible trouble with this mechanism is that it only refers to those folds; while the YEC ignore all other types of folding which are much more common. [edited]


Also, @Boscopup have you seen this old thread? Misrepresentation of Grand Canyon rock formations - #2 by jammycakes

Thanks for posting this response from Andrew Snelling, @Boscopup. I was wondering what he would have to say when confronted with high-resolution photographs of the fractures that he claimed not to exist. It seems he’s trying to argue for a different interpretation of them – the old “same evidence, different interpretations” argument again. But the fact remains that he did claim – or at the very least, very, very strongly imply – that they didn’t even exist. It’s one thing to try and argue for an alternative interpretation of fractures such as these; it’s a completely different matter to suggest that they don’t even exist when quite clearly they do. On top of that, when the photograph on their website in support of such a claim has people standing right in front of the most prominent fractures at the hinge of the fold, he most definitely has some more explaining to do.

There are two other problems with the “wet deformation” hypothesis. The first one is the size of the rock formation. I could understand wet clay deforming into folds a few centimetres high, but what we’re looking at here is a rock formation 30-50 metres tall weighing millions of tons. The idea that layers on that scale could deform wet without slumping and blurring into one another is simply in defiance of the law of gravity.

The second one is that even if the rocks were deformed while wet as he claims, what is there to say that that happened six thousand years ago rather than 540 million years ago as conventional dating techniques tell us? Nothing whatsoever. YECs harp on about “same evidence, different interpretations,” but the fact of the matter is that any evidence that can be interpreted in either a young-earth or an old-earth timescale is ambiguous, does not constitute evidence for either position, and can be categorised along with the price of tea in China, the colour of shirt that I am wearing as I type this, and the Loch Ness Monster. For something to count as evidence for a young earth, it needs to clearly falsify an old earth.

Snelling’s response to you is most likely what he’s trying to come up with for his much-publicised study of that particular rock feature – the one that involved a legal battle with the Grand Canyon authorities a couple of years back. What I’d like to know about his study, whatever he comes up with, is, how vulnerable is it to cherry-picking? I would imagine that in a rock formation such as this one, some samples would show little or no evidence of stress fracturing, whereas others would show lots of it. A professional geologist such as Dr Snelling would no doubt be able to select only samples that gave him the results he wanted here, while carefully avoiding the ones that didn’t. For a study such as this to be convincing, it would have to be a blind study in terms of collection as well as processing.


A few more comments from the other place:

Snelling completely omits the key term–cooling. Rocks under pressure heat up, causing expansion, followed by cooling and either expansion or contraction, depending on gas content, mineralization processes, crystallization, etc. Heating can be relatively rapid, due to contact with heat sources (e.g. lava) or very slow, due to increased deposition pressure overhead, and similarly cooling can be rapid from contact with water or air, or very slow as erosion removes overburden and layers move away from the mantle (think of the rise of the Himalayas). His answer is mumbo jumbo.


"To my layman eyes, this looks like he’s assuming the folding occurred while the rock was still soft? " Yes. He’s saying the cracks have to be later because it was soft before because he says it was soft before. But soft-sediment bending will mix layers. Soft-sediment deformation is common and can be documented in the Recent and in the rock record. Layers can’t be soft when they have karst features developing on them and chunks of them get eroded and then buried in the next layer, as are true of a number of the layers in the Grand Canyon. .

But the others aren’t explanations. They’re “Rescuing Devices.”

Hi Christy, do you have a link to the other place? It would be interesting to see the whole discussion there.

You would have to join the FB group, but here it is: Celebrating Creation by Natural Selection! | Facebook

As I read, I find myself a layman in geology that may be moved either way by the arguments on either side. But with the word of God the ultimate authority, I side with those whose arguments best support the Bible. From those like Newton, Kepler, Pasteur, etc, I learned that the Biblical creation point of view is the primary influence that inspires modern science.

Dr. Snelling in his position is between a rock and a hard place. But Dr. Snelling is rejoicing. He goes the way of the Rock where he is jostled as a straw man in the wrestling ring and avoids the hard, hard place of compromise where he would be beaten much more severely as a real man for the compromise from his position. I’m confident that he well never do that! We all thus respect him.


I reserve the greater respect for those who attend to both the work of God’s hands as well as God’s revelation to us without pitting those two things against each other. Scientists are helping us focus with increasing clarity and accuracy on the former of those two things. Theologians have their specialty in the latter, and I thank God for the immense and productive overlap between those areas of expertise.


I side with those whose arguments best obey the Bible. That means honest reporting and honest interpretation of accurate information.

Claiming that a rock formation is not fractured, when photographs clearly show that it is, simply does not fall into that category, no matter how you interpret the fractures when you’re finally confronted with them. You don’t have to be an expert in geology to see that.


Im not on here much but I saw this. I am a geophysicist who worked in the oil industry for 47 years and do have significant experience with how rocks fold. In Bill-II’s Natural History post you can see that the limestones (or dolomites) have ground themselves to rubble every few feet. Limestone and dolomite are quite hard and brittle rocks so their fractures every few feet allow the rock to bend. The dark layers, the shales are softer and they can more easily adjust without fracturing, but even they can be deformed only so far before faults become visible. You are correct that deep burial and high pressure constrains the rock to not fold like the cars of a train does when it wrecks. Folding occurs in response to faulting, or continental collision which is a very slow motion collision, but a relentless one. Hope this helps

There is one way to prove or disprove if those fractrures are ‘shrinkage cracks’. They would have to be hexagonal when one looks at the horizontal surface of the limestone or something like that, not block faulted (rectangles). Shrinkage cracks are related to dewatering, block faulting is due to structural stresses. layer. My experience with limestone rocks are that they are always block faulted at the scale of the thickness of the rock shown in those photos like this one


Hi Jim,

I’m thankful for the help from gbob and the links given. Again I say that I’m no expert in geology.
But was Dr. Snelling dishonest? I doubt it especially if he is engaged in an effort to support the Bible. Why didn’t others within his circle quickly notice and rebuke him if that’s the case?

Why the three-fold segregation between scientists (evolutionists, creationists, and young-earth creationists) despite the fact that scientific knowledge by nature settles conflicts? Why the apparent impossibility to come to agreement? Are any of us familiar with the term, “sola scriptura?” Even Jesus Himself expresses Himself a divider (Matthew 10:34-36, etc.). Why?

I only know that beside the fact that Snelling gave other reasons for the cracks, conflict is characteristic of discussions between Biblical and secular viewpoints. This is what Snelling spoke of when he spoke of different starting points. Is there any underlying issue that makes this rock-bending discussion appear so significant?


You don’t think someone would lie to support the Bible? Really? I mean, they SHOULDN’T, but to say no one ever would? Have you never seen those Ron Wyatt hoaxes? He has lied to support the Bible many times.

Snelling’s colleagues won’t rebuke him. Creation scientists aren’t practicing real science. They are starting with a conclusion and doing what they can to convince people of that conclusion, regardless of the evidence or lack thereof. Snelling had to sign a statement of faith saying that his scientific conclusions would support a 6 day creation 6000 years ago. He can’t show evidence of something contrary to that, and neither can his colleagues who signed the same statement. Admitting that those rocks didn’t fold in a global flood = admitting that long ages exist.

I’ve seen plenty of blatant dishonesty (not just disagreement or interpreting things differently, but actual lying) from creation scientists. Not all of them lie, but many do, and that does a lot of damage to Christianity, causing many people to fall away.


I would say he is mistaken in his interpretation of God’s natural revelation. Just as people can be mistaken in their interpretation of God’s special revelation. The problem is he believes his interpretation of nature has to match his interpretation of scripture.

When talking about geology leave biology out. Biology says nothing about the age of the earth.

Yes I think so.

Notice it is faith and practice and not geology. It was a reaction to the Roman Catholic Church’s belief in the authority of the Church in addition to the authority of the Bible. There is much that science tells us that is not in the Bible.

Sorry but the age of the earth is not a conflict between Biblical and secular. There are many Christians that have no problem with an Earth that is 4 billion years old. And while Dr. Snelling can give his reasons for the cracks the final answer will be what does an examination of the rocks actually show?


This ( whether YEC scientists and some ID scientists are dishonest) is an issue I struggle with. I think that secular people in science do see them as dishonest, which is a real problem with acceptance of the gospel, but as Christians, I think we can see their position a bit better, and extend grace to their situation. I think Snelling and others in his position have a genuine commitment to their theology, and work to conform science to fit in that box. We are all subject to internal and external pressures that make us behave the way we do. We have peer pressure, tribal social pressure, financial considerations, family positions, and our own history that makes up our self-worth that forces us to rationalize and distort observations to conform to how we want to see them. Is that dishonest or just human?


I think I’d partly agree with you there Phil. I personally believe that we should give YECs the benefit of the doubt wherever we can. Quote mining is one example here: I’d reckon that probably about half of the examples on the Talk Origins “quote mine project” are more a case of misunderstanding than anything else.

However, when someone is making claims that they know – or should reasonably be expected to know – to be false, and when there is clear evidence that they have taken steps to conceal the falsehood of those claims from their audience (for example, by placing people in front of rock fractures that they claim not to exist), it’s very, very difficult to see how such claims could be made in good faith.

In any case, James 3:1 tells us, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” Anyone who teaches – on any subject, whether in church or elsewhere – is in a position of trust, and for them to fail to ensure that their claims are factually accurate is a breach of that trust. Especially if it concerns matters that they claim to be important, or if they are flaunting their credentials as experts in the subject.


I agree that willfully hiding or distorting facts goes into the realm of deception and lies, and thus the struggle I have with it. And certainly those who have greater knowledge of the subject and who claim expertise should be held to a higher standard as they cannot make ignorance a defense. Considering that, I think we still need to give grace when possible, and try to be aware of our own blind spots.

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