The geologic case for an old earth rests on three principle – the principles of superposition developed by Nicolas Steno in 1669, the principle of faunal succession presented by William Smith in 1816, and the principle of uniformitarianism developed by Charles Lyell in 1833. Using these three principles, old earth geologists constructed a hypothetical geologic column in which successive layers of rock each represent long ages of time in Earth’s history. However, when these principles are actually tested in the field or in the laboratory, they are often found to disagree with observations.
One such disagreement is explained very well in the video below. This is a short film produced by Guy Berthault, a French geologist who used simple, repeatable laboratory experiments to disprove Steno’s principle of superposition. According to Steno:
At the time when one of the upper strata was being formed, the lower stratum had already gained the consistency of a solid ... At the time when any stratum was being formed, all the matter resting upon it was fluid, and therefore, at the time when the lowest stratum was being formed, none of the upper strata existed.
In other words, Steno proposed that the layers of rock were laid down one layer at a time with the layers on the bottom being older than the layers on top. Steno performed no experimentation to test this claim, and as Berthault points out, when it was actually put to the test in the field by Johannes Walther in the late nineteenth century, it was discovered that Steno was very much mistaken. Berthault builds on Walther’s discovery by demonstrating that the results found in the field can be reproduced under controlled circumstances in a laboratory. Both the field studies of Johannes Walther and the laboratory experiments by Guy Berthault show that multiple layers of rock in Earth’s crust formed simultaneously as the result of natural particle sorting.
Bill Fortenberry is a Christian philosopher and historian in Birmingham, AL. Bill's work has been cited in several legal journals, and he has appeared as a guest on shows including The Dr. Gina Show, The Michael Hart Show, and Real Science Radio.
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