Is it possible to rationally believe YEC?

Why is that? How does the mainstream say it was formed and why is the geologic explanation hard to believe?

“Sal doesn’t understand it so it must be wrong” isn’t a scientific rebuttal.


It might help the discussion if you could explain what you see as the problems with the mainstream account of this?

I don’t know the details of the geology here, but what I see is a model that shows a couple of unconformities, two sequences of sedimentary layers, some broad folding, several phases of faulting, an intrusion or two, and the effects of uplift, exposion, weathering and erosion. Nothing jumps out to me as particularly problematic.

You might be pleased to learn that I can identify at least two phases of flooding here :slight_smile:


Agreed, and hence I’m starting work on a computer vizualization of the problem. Unfortunately, it’s low on the priorities, but work has started. I’ll post if I get around to showing it.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Before you do any work it might be helpful if you could say what processes you hope to visualise? Perhaps the problems you see are not really problems worth the effort of a visualisation? I’d be glad to help you along.

Posting teasers of what you are not prepared to immediately defend diminishes credibility. There is a detailed, mainstream account of the grand canyon and surrounding area, and everyone is supposed to suspend this while some computer visualization is under development, which is supposed to overturn geology? Are geologists dunces who have been wasting their time and careers?

Note that there are any number of easily available geology sites online with the geologic history of the Grand Staircase

Geology of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah

Several miles out from the Utah town of Kanab, all five stair steps of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument can be seen. The Staircase is huge, consisting of almost two-million acres of plateaus, mesas, buttes, slot canyons - all in a primitive setting. The photo shows the layers as seen from US Hghway 89A in Arizona, from the “Le Fevre Overlook” in Kaibab National Forest. The monument is a separate entity from other nearby parks and monuments, even though they are part of its geological makeup. For millions of years, sediments were deposited in the low lands. These sediments formed layers of sandstone, shale and mudstone. A short time ago in geological time, perhaps ten million years, the slow uplift of the Colorado Plateau began. Rock Age is from the Permian - Tertiary (275- 50 mya)

Colors and Age of the Grand Staircase - The Grand Staircase is made up of five tilted, southward, facing escarpments called stairsteps. The stairsteps rise 5500’ and range from the North Rim Grand Canyon through Zion National Park to the uppermost riser, the pink cliffs of Bryce Canyon. Although there are other exposed areas of claron formation, geologists usually think of Bryce Canyon, Red Canyon and Cedar Breaks when speaking of pink cliffs. The steps of the Grand Staircase are described by their colors: chocolate, vermillion, white, gray and pink. The bottom step is made of limestone and is known as the North Rim Grand Canyon. Interestingly however, the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument does not include Zion, Bryce, Red Canyon, Cedar Breaks or the Grand Canyon although they are all part of its geological make-up.

Oldest: Chocolate Layer - Grand Canyon - Chocolate Step - The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is the oldest and the bottom layer of the Grand Staircase. Made up of Kaibab limestone, it formed between 200 to 225 million years ago. The Chocolate layer is found between Kanab and Fredonia and the bottom layer of Kaibab limestone forms the rim of the Grand Canyon and the surface rock underlies most of the Kaibab Plateau.

Vermillion Layer - Kanab - Vermillion Cliffs - These reddish or vermillion colored cliffs are about 165 to 200 million years old and are found along highway 89 near Kanab. They are made up of deposited silt and desert dunes.

White Layer - Zion Park and Mt. Carmel Jct. - White Cliffs - These are the magnificent white towering Navajo sandstone cliffs seen in Zion National Park. The White layer is the eroded cliffs in the Navajo sandstone of Zion Canyon and the White Cliffs found in Mount Carmel Junction. This white capped thin layer was deposited about 150 million years ago on top of the temple cap formation during the time when streams moved over the Navajo Desert and was later covered by great dunes of sand.

Skutumpah Terrace - The Skutumpah Terrace is located between Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon inside the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. It’s made up of carmel formation limestones.

Gray Layer - Between Zion Park & Bryce - Grey Cliffs - This step is made up of soft Cretaceous shale and sandstone that was deposited around 130 million years ago. It is as old as the dinosaur and is seen in Mount Carmel Junction and north of Kanab. These are the middle areas of the Grand Staircase, along highway 89 between Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon.

Youngest: Pink Layer - Bryce Canyon - Pink Cliffs - This 50 to 60 million year old rock is the exposed claron formation found in Bryce Canyon, Red Canyon and Cedar Breaks

Of course all the geologic explanations in the world won’t help someone who doesn’t want to learn.

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@faded_Glory is an actual geologist. I don’t think he needs pictures drawn by someone who knows exactly bugger-all about geology to understand how this feature was formed.


Thank you for the offer, and certainly I’ll take you up on your kind offer.

The problems are those depicted in these not-so-good graphics in Sean Pitmann’s diagrams:

The first diagram:

The expected results of long periods of erosion between episodes of sediment deposition:


What is not captured is the effect of any folding or partial uplift of the layers on the bottom before new layers are added on top in addition to the erosion and weathering…

Next how big are the sources of sediments and their nature. I would like to depict that visually too.

And then clasitic dykes:

Theses problems are not quite as immense as those for abiogenesis or eukaryotic evolution, but enough to break faith that the mainstream necessarily has the description of the past correct. At some point I no longer found the mainstream account believable for some of the reasons I just stated in this present comment – nothwhistanding your equally pointed and valid objections to the YEC models.

I want to make an animation of the problem with colors and variable parameters. I want to work with geologists at YEC geology centers like Cedarville University, Loma Linda University on this eventually.

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Note the above description is exactly what causes the angular unconformities Sal won’t touch.

From a previous post of mine

Angular unconformities take at least 7 separate geologic steps to form with each step taking millions of years

  1. Horizontal sediments are laid down on the ocean bed.
  2. As they are buried deeper the sediments lithify - harden into stone
  3. Plate tectonics raises and tilts the once horizontal layers
  4. Erosion planes off the tilted layers to a once again horizontal surface
  5. Another ocean ingresses and lays further sediment over top the planed off tilted area.
  6. The new layers are buried and lithify
  7. Eventually erosion exposes the whole combined sequences.

YECs won’t touch this sort of physical evidence. Of course it was the famous angular unconformity at Siccar Point Scotland which convinced geologist James Hutton in 1788 the Earth wasn’t young

Amazing Sal can sit there and deny this evidence exists. :rofl:


What is expected is exactly what we do find. Here is an infilled paleochannel in the Grand Canyon.


“YEC geology” - there’s today’s oximoron winner. :slightly_smiling_face:


The Temple Butte channels are very common and easy to see, especially upstrean of the Little Colorado confluence.

I took this picture in 2018 with a group of fellow geologists. Our trip leaders were Profs. Laura Crossey and Karl Karlstrom.

Here’s a link to an excellent USGS Special Paper on the Canyon, and a set of detailed geological maps that I compiled for the trip

I am more than glad to discuss what is not wrong about the Grand Staircase!


Ok. First of all, we often do find that the surface below an unconformity is uneven, with the next layer filling in the hollows and then extending over the top. This is called ‘buried relief’ and occurs at many scales, from centimeters to hundreds of meters. It does indicate erosion of the lower unit before the deposition of the upper one. Such erosion can be subaerial but can also take place on the sea bed, although usually it will then be of smaller lateral extent.

A year or two ago I visited a site in South Wales where you could see this right in close up:

This is evidence of exposure and erosion of the lower unit (Carboniferous Limestone), followed by deposition of the upper unit, in this case Triassic (?) conglomerates. These particular conglomerates are more likely terrestrial deposits (alluvial fans or flash flood mass flows) than submarine sediments, but the principle is the same.

Now, this doesn’t always happen. As you point out, very often the layers are deposited quite parallel to each other. It is important to realise that sedimentary layers are like individual frames of a film. There is layering because sedimentation is often interrupted for some duration, that can come with subtle changes in the influx of sediment (changes in source area for instance, or simply changes in grain size or composition, climatic influence perhaps). Such breaks result in the bedding planes we see. In a way, each bedding plane can be a mini-unconformity of limited duration.

Now, it is very important to realise that unconformities and breaks can form without the need for exposure. Over time, influx varies for numerous reasons, and also there are constant variations in sea level that mean that an area finds itself at times in deeper or shallower water, and further away or closer to the coast. All of these variations will leave their imprint on the eventual rocks and can cause breaks in the sedimentation that manifest themselves as bedding planes or overall changes in the character of the rocks.

Some areas can be stable over very long periods of time. In such conditions we don’t expect much in the way of visible deformation (folds and/or faults).

So although we often do see buried topography at unconformities, in many cases we do not. All these things are factors of the ever present and ever-variable interplay of movements of the earth’s crust, sea level, climate and sediment source areas.

Sediment source areas will vary in size. Just like today, where we have land masses ranging from tiny islands to enormous continents. Look at a map of the USA and draw the drainage area of the Mississippi. That is one enormous sediment source area, most of which is going to end up in the Gulf of Mexico. There have been loads of wells drilled in the GoM, and masses of seismic data has been gathered.
Look at this one:

Here you see a seismic line through some part of the Gulf of Mexico. The top half consists of generally flat-lying, parallel sedimentary layers, just like what you see in your geological model above. This entire succession was laid down under the sea, without uplift and exposure. Yet you can clearly see that the layers are discrete and individual, different from each other, giving rise to the stripiness. Changes over time as I discussed above are the cause of this.

We know all this because there are hundreds of wells drilled in the Gulf, and samples are taken throughout these layers and analysed. They are full of marine microfossils (that show systematic vertical changes in their assemblages, by the way)

So, here we have parallel layering in a pile of sediments all laid down in the sea. No buried topography here, nor would we expect any.

Ha, this is new to me, I hadn’t seen these before (I haven’t really done much work inland USA). Looks intriguing. I will need to read up on them before I can comment.


Here is the famous unconformity at Siccar Point:

This is where James Hutton realised the concept of ‘Deep Time’ - way back in 1788! Note that the unconformity surface is uneven. There older layers below are marine sandstone, which after lithification became subject to strong deformation, then became emergent and subject to erosion. They were deformed in the Caledonian orogeny, a phase of continental collision and mountain building as a consequence of the closure of the Iapetus Ocean that once existed between what was essentially North America on the one hand, and the Southern part of the Brisith Isles and the Baltic shield on the other.

All this of course happened a long, long time ago…

Younger sediments were eventually deposited on top. These are actually terrestrial fresh-water conglomerates and sandstones, sourced from the land mass that arose out of the Caledonian orogeny. They were gently deformed and tilted in turn.

We now know that the time gap represented by this unconformity is about 65 million years. Not by measuring the ages directly here, but by dating elsewhere and careful correlation and mapping.


Nice unconformity in the GC. Pleistocene travertine deposits in partially filled channel in the Cambrian Bright Angel Shale.

Travertine deposits commonly collect other mineral and biological debris, and are excellent recorders of trace elements and stable isotopes. Dating by Th/U methods, combined with oxygen and carbon isotope work can provide high-resolution time/temperature curves.


My intention in this thread was to discuss de jure objections to believing YEC. It seems to have gotten far off track with de facto arguments.

Perhaps those wanting to argue specifics of YEC can start a thread on that?

Getting back to de jure issues, let me refresh the original argument, taking account of a possible gap (depending on assumptions about our definition of God):


Now, if I’m not mistaken, the responses to this have broken down into two categories. The first group would be those who affirm the argument, with the proviso that the person isn’t aware of defeaters. The second group denies the conclusion, but also denies A.

Of course, the sample size here is very small. But maybe this should indicate to Christians that YEC isn’t the fulcrum for Christianity and culture relations that it’s sometimes made to be?

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Hi John
The question I have is if it is theologically important to distinguish between Genesis 1,2,3 being a story or being real history. I agree with points A and B BTW.

I have briefly looked at the arguments for the importance of Genesis being history and don’t find them compelling.

But why not consider the idea that God created the system of evolution. That would really be to the credit of God.

Hi Bill,

The question would be whether you think it’s possible to rationally believe that the Bible teaches YEC, not whether you find it compelling personally.

(1) Abiogenesis in science refers to a living organism arising from non-living materials.

(2) Unless one believes that living organisms have always existed, logic tells us that there was at least one (if not many) times in the past that a living organism arose from non-living ingredients.

(3) Nothing in the Bible denies the possibility of living organisms coming into existence from non-living materials. (The Bible even speaks of HADAM, “the man”, being formed from “the dust of the ground”, which sounds like non-living raw ingredients to me. So why couldn’t someone interpret the creation account of Adam in Genesis as an instance of abiogenesis?)

Obviously, when abiogenesis is discussed in a science textbook, it takes no position on whether or not a deity was involved because the scientific method has no means of addressing theological topics involving the actions of deities.


That seems about right. I never said YEC was irrational. Many brilliant. thoughtful, and (yes!) rational people I know are YEC. Note, it is rational provided we are not engaging the evidence. It might be rational engaging evidence 3rd hand too, but soon it starts to loose touch with reality as we get to know the evidence better…

Well, YEC itself is not the problem, but many of the things surrounding it.

  1. Some YECs treat YEC as “the fulcrum for Christianity and culture relations” and this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy (curse?).
  2. Some YECs are test the limits of honesty in representing the evidence (see @jammycakes’s work), and this certainly damages the credibility of the Church, and it also injures individuals.

The problem is not YEC itself, but the virulent strains of YEC.