Question from a YEC: What explains sedimentary rock other than a worldwide flood?

Thank you for your kind response.

This was a good recent quote from Craig Keener

Some conservative evangelicals expend enormous effort to defend the idea of a ‘young’ earth. Yet most evangelical biblical commentators don’t think the Bible itself actually teaches that.


That is simply flat-out untrue. Petroleum geologists need to know both the ages of the rock layers and their thermal history because that information is crucial to knowing what they are likely to consist of. Too young, or too cold, and they won’t have had enough time to decay into oil. Too old, or too hot, and they will have baked away to nothing. This article explains it:

There may have been a time once when you could find oil using simpler models that didn’t require any knowledge of the ages of the rock strata, but those easy win deposits were all exhausted by the 1970s.

This thread over on The Other Place has a couple of posts from oil industry veterans with many years of experience explaining just what searching for oil actually involves. First up:

And secondly:


I am not a geologist, but I have coordinated with them in upstream hydrocarbon company engineering offices, where large formation maps hang like tapestries. Oil companies spend dizzying millions to determine every aspect of the geological history. When you attempt to separate, as you say, characteristics and age, you have no idea what you are talking about as these are not independent one of the other. What is found is entirely the product of the processes involved in the entire history of the formation.


Apparently Clarey, with the experience that you and I lack, and who uses these drilling cores extensively in his research, would differ. Certainly the relative ages of the strata is agreed on.

Clarey is studying the same evidence, finds the same hydrocarbon deposits while assuming much younger geological ages. You would find his book both interesting and enlightening. His research in the book covers North America, South America and Africa.

He is continuing in his research for Europe, Asia and Australia. There is less data for Antarctica–probably not much petroleum exploration there in the near future.

How do you know it is “most?” Most current, or most over time? When did the consensus shift if it did, and why? And why does “most” mean they are right?

Lyell and Hutton started the shift, but their arguments were primarily rhetorical and not evidence based, even as reported by evolutionary historians of science. So why did some biblical scholars or even scientists jump on the bandwagon then?

And why do evangelical bible commentators come to that conclusion now? Did they start with the text, or do they try to figure out how to get the text to fit with the scientific consensus? Of course, they must say they start with the text, but do they really? Or do they just want to “fit in?”

I heard a conversation by a well respected biblical scholar from Wheaton make this statement: “If we want the professors in the science department to accept our expertise in biblical interpretation, we must also accept their expertise in the area of science.” Seems like a poor reason to me–biblical interpretation subordinate to the teaching in the science department.

The Bible does not change; science texts by their very nature change all the time. So we must be careful to not change our understanding of scripture based on the shifting sands of current scientific fashions.

The Bible does not try to teach modern science.

The Bible does not try to teach modern science.

I can’t say I know that. Keener apparently does. Based on my limited cursory reading of the subject, the commentators that have a decent grasp on ANE culture don’t make an issue about a young Earth. The opinion as I see it, is that the creation account is not concerned with explaining how God created the world, but in that God created the world. Tremper Longman makes a good case out of God breathing into dust and forming man. I don’t know of any orthodox Christian who thinks that God literally blew air from his lungs into the nostrils of a creature he formed from a pile of dust.

Now I would love to see a conversation from someone like Craig Keener (or Jamie Smith) about how the historical Adam relates to God’s work of spiritually awakening people groups.

Longman also sees how the darkness and the sea which preceded the fall, will no longer have a place in the new creation.


I may not have any experience in the oil industry myself, but I do know enough about physics to understand that the Arrhenius equation is a thing.

Here’s the thing, Craig. Conventional geologists don’t just tell us that they need to know the absolute ages of oil deposits, they tell us why they need to know the absolute ages of oil deposits. As I said, if their models of age and thermal history don’t correspond with reality, the deposits will either turn out to be too young and not ready, or too old and baked away to nothing, and either way they won’t get anything out of the ground. When you’re up against straightforward explanations such as that, responding simply by telling us to read some book or other isn’t going to cut it. Especially not when it comes from an organisation that repeatedly fails the FizzBuzz of physics and earth sciences.

Really? If he really is using young earth, Flood geology models to find hydrocarbons, then why isn’t the Institute for Creation Research offering consulting services in oil exploration on their website? If the earth really were six thousand years old, and Flood geology really did provide an accurate description of reality, then this would be a major selling point and a competitive advantage. They would have testimonials left, right and centre from oil executives and landowners listing all the deposits they’d been able to find where conventional geology had failed.

And no, oil executives wouldn’t be rejecting it because of “evolutionary presuppositions.” That’s not how business works. Investors and venture capitalists pay for what brings in the money, not for what is ideologically convenient.


Have you been anywhere near a petroleum engineering office? None of the geologists I have known or worked with, including Christian, are YEC.

As for Tim Clarey, his writings on sequence stratigraphy are nonsense which avoids the alluvial and coastal processes which are evidenced by that very subject, and he is either self deluded or a charlatan. There is no real awareness of Clarey because he has not published any papers in forums geologists would follow, but Christian oil geologist Stephen Mitchell did criticize his book here. Lorence G. Collins, retired professor of geology and also a Christian, states “He says that “the stones don’t lie.” Unfortunately, people do, and he has a 492-page book that is full of deceit because he uses only data that seem to fit his model”. Glenn Morton, a highly successful petroleum geologist, now deceased, has discussed how evidence drove his journey away from YEC.

There is no point of agreement whatsoever. Geology recognizes the detail and features which are individually dated throughout the entire time span covered by sea level ingress and regress, yielding a continuous record both local and general. The processes invoked by Clarey are motivated by an apologetic narrative and are incompatible with the evidence. If you are really interested in the science of sequence stratigraphy, try reading the introduction I linked above.


Please provide citations of these historians of science. Lyell’s two volume Principles of Geology were the definitive text for a generation.

Principles of Geology, vol. 1

Principles of Geology, vol. 2

James Hutton uncovered evidence for an ancient earth at the unconformitiy of Siccar Point and igneous intrusions at Salisbury Crags, both definitely evidence based.


Petroleum exploration relies on old-earth models to determine where to look for oil: what layer is it in? where can we find appropriate structures to hold oil? The sequence of layers and fossils is critical to the search for petroleum. The age is essential for understanding whether a layer will have oil or not. Young-earthers do work for oil companies, but regardless of their worldview they use old-earth models when it comes to actually finding anything. Anyone who looks at geology will see that it points to an ancient earth, no matter what their worldview; the only claims to the contrary come from individuals committed to a young-earth view, and comparison of their claims with the actual geological evidence never leads to a positive impression of the young-earth arguments.

Looking at an individual aspect of geology is not the problem with “piecemeal” approaches. What is wrong with the young-earth approach is that it is not part of a coherent framework. You can’t claim that the footprints in the Coconino were made by animals crawling underwater while simultaneously claiming that the flood would have already exterminated ocean life, for example, and expect someone who cares about accuracy to approve. There is no time in a young-earth model for the Coconino to have formed as underwater dunes, layer by layer, with animals burrowing in the sand and walking across underwater. To make the trace fossils, the sand has to sit with an exposed surface long enough for the prints and burrows to be made. Then it gets buried, and more animals come by. But you’re supposedly depositing most of the geologic column within one year. There is no time for packing down one layer, letting animals visit for a while, making another thin layer, etc. The Coconino Sandstone was examined for evidence as to how it was laid down, and the evidence points to it being windblown desert sands. The young-earth analysis did not examine whether evidence favored windblown sand versus water; it was just an effort to claim that it could be deposited by water because that was the only option compatible with flood geology claims. The Coconino has raindrop impressions, which cannot be produced underwater. There are distinctive wind-produced ripple forms. The angle of the crossbedding is commonly that only produced by wind. Some sets of footprints match what is produced by an animal climbing up a dune. Even Brand (the YEC source of the claims) admitted that the prints were compatible with damp sand out of the water.

On what basis do you say that these young earth models are consistent with the evidence, comprehensive, and coherent? Have you actually studied the geology and compared it, or are you just going off the model sounding good when you read young earth sources? To take one instance, Clarey invokes a measured rate of erosion of beach sand and claims that it applies to the erosion of volcanic rock. He isn’t giving a credible assessment of the evidence.

What are YEC geologists not agreeing on? There is certainly room for different ideas about details. But to claim that rock layers clearly show evidence for conditions drastically different from today in a global flood, yet not to be able to agree on what layers were deposited by the flood, is a serious problem for the credibility of the claim that these layers are clearly demonstrating a global flood. Also problematic is the tendency for young-earth sources to present their view as The Biblical Position. Admitting “well, he thinks this and I think that and they’ve got a different view; this needs more work” would be an honest approach. But “I have all the answers and anyone who disagrees with me is anti-Bible” is not.


Would that be the same erosion we see from mount st hellens? I dont recall that taking long at all.
The point is, the non christian world view claims catestrophic sedimentary event on a global scale, christians also make the same claim…we are simply arguing over which claim is the right one.

It is undeniable that secularism cannot accept a fast deposit of rock layers…that would be accepting the miracles of God!

Atheists cannot accept miracles from God…nothing in the flood can happen without a miracle…therefore theories must be produced that deny such miracles.

To be honest, i dont even know how Christians are confused by this…its so simple theologically. The science is, in all honesty, not even relevant…

no amount of science will provide any pathway to salvation and that is key.

One can have the wrong science and be saved but one cannot have the wrong theology and be saved!

Miracles may still be (scientifically) documented and there is nothing about a global flood that is (scientifically) documented


No, because the Mount St Helens erosion is tephra and volcanic ash, which is about as loose and unconsolidated as you can get. That is very, very different from rocks such as granite and basalt, which are hard and durable and resistant to weathering.

And this is nothing to do with “secularism” or “atheism.” It’s simply a matter of getting your facts straight and being honest about what the evidence does or does not support.


You realize that was erosion of unconsolidated ash and and sediment, not solid granite. It is really disingenuous of the writers of the major organizations to compare the two. If you look at the erosion of running water on bedrock, it is estimated that the Grand Canyon is deepening at a rate of about .3 meters every 200 years, which is about 6 inches/100years or .06 inches a year, with water running 24 hours a day.


Pretty sure I’ve seen just such a view expressed here recently in the changed theology / jesus return thread. You should never be surprised about how literally some Christians interpret the bible.

“No point of agreement whatsoever?” So deep time advocates do not believe, as do young earth advocates, that in general, the layers below are older than the layers above?

I can’t possibly and certainly don’t intend to respond to all the replies in this forum. But this certainly illustrates why there is little value in doing so.

Huh? The issue is that in the YE view, they are exactly comparable. In both cases, the erosion was of unconsolidated sediment, not solid granite. You may disagree with the interpretation, but your misunderstanding of the young earth position in no way justifies calling those who disagree with you “disingenuous.”

And of course, a differing point of view is much easier to dismiss when it is both misunderstood and when those who hold it can be viewed as villainous.

James Hutton. You can start here. Clearly Stephen J. Gould had very little respect for Hutton, and that certainly did not arise because they held differing worldviews.