Dear readers, some days I do suffer due to my peculiar hobby of skepticism. Today is one such day, for today I once again visit Creation Minute and watched their new video.
It was one of the longest minutes of my life, which is impressive, considering that the burning hateful stupid doesn’t even start till about 20 seconds in. Here, Hovind uses a typical creationist ploy: “some scientists suggest that the Colorado River formed the Grand Canyon over millions of years.” He also says it with a tone of dismissive sarcasm that I may emulate in the future. He may not be able to tell the difference between sandstone and brick, but the guy can sure convey some spite.
“Some scientists?” That would be equivalent to me saying “some people DON’T spontaneously heal their hepatitis C.” “Suggest?” It is not as though the theories of geological uniformity and, I don’t know – erosion – are mere dinner party, back-of-the-envelope ideas.
Once he starts trying to use facts to show that his fiction is true, he slips fully into psuedoscience mode – basically saying that since the rim of the canyon at the entrance is higher than it is at the exit, the river would have had to flow uphill for millions of years to make the canyon. Therefore the real answer is a giant freaking flood of ruthless, genocidal vengeance, which created the whole thing in 40 days and left behind carefully deposited layers of sediment with fossils arranged not by size or density, but, miraculously, arranged by radio-carbon-date.
To a already-believing creationist, this may seem like a legitimate argument. It shares a lot with the typical techniques they use – a somewhat rational starting point followed by a reasonable inference, followed by a non-sequitur, followed by a huge brick wall of whiskey tango foxtrot. If you ever find yourself in an argument with one, you’ll likely encounter something like this. (These are also reasonable approximations of the argument from design and the cosmological argument).
Of course, they sell creationist books at the Grand Canyon visitors centers, books from guys like Hovind and his “peers,” (actually a bit of a misuse of the word, as other creation scientists don’t like Hovind or his arguments), so if you’re taking your quiver full of god-fearing younglings to see some of the most awesome evidence for geologic time, then you don’t have to worry about them learning why Hovind is wrong.
The reason why the elevation difference exists is a process called tectonic uplift – as the Colorado Plateau was uplifted, two rivers began flowing into and cutting down what would become the Grand Canyon. They connected at the Kaibab Arch, where the river takes a serious bend.
About ten million years ago, the erosion of the uplift began. I say “about” because, in real science as opposed to pseudoscience, there is always an error bar. Recent lead-uranium dating studies have challenged the previous age of the canyon – 5 to 6 million years – as being, perhaps, 16 million years old. But that is a good thing. As long as people are engaged in legitimate debate, someone, at least, is interested in getting a better answer.
Another real unknown, masked by all the noise the creationists put off, is the interplay between erosion and uplift. Obviously, uplifted rock is eroded – as in the creation of the Grand Canyon – but as erosion occurs, does it change the rate of uplift? Do the tons of eroded materials cause uplifting crust to move up faster? These are real questions in need of real answers, and you’re not going to get them by looking at “Doctor” Dino videos.