RATE Presentation DOES indeed get interesting
Back in February, I blogged about a conference put on by the RATE Group in an undisclosed location. Today, I've heard back from my colleague Dr. Todd Feeley, University of Montana in Bozeman. What Todd was trying to do behind the scenes of this upcoming event was to arrange with the speaker John Baumgardner to attend a field trip with the faculty at Montana and explain the geology of the region in the young earth global flood model. I received permission from Todd to go ahead and post his e-mails to my blog, but have no permission to post John Baumgardner's replies. That means it's up to you to fill-in-the-blanks regarding what was/wasn't said. So, here is the first message from Todd to John:
Dear John,This is a wonderful request and idea for confronting creationists and I applaud Todd for using this tactic. In fact, a video of the whole thing would be priceless. The problem, as you might guess would be getting Baumgardner to reply positively. Todd did indeed get a response from Baumgardner which I cannot post here, but you might be able to figure out the gist of the e-mail by reading Todd's reply:
Greetings from one former Bruin (Ph.D., 1993) to another. I've read in our local newspaper that you will be in Bozeman this April for a conference to discuss the results of your work with the RATE group. As you are probably aware, the geology of the northern Rocky Mountains is exceptionally diverse. In less than a days drive we can examine Archean Wyoming Province meta-igneous and sedimentary rocks, the Quaternary and Pliocene Yellowstone Plateau volcanic field (and Snake River Plain), world-class dinosaur localities, Laramide deformational features, massive sections of Proterozoic Belt Supergroup sedimentary rocks, Paleozoic to Eocene terrestrial and marine sedimentary rocks, Cretaceous to Eocene extensional deformation and magmatism, and just about everything else one can imagine in between.
Of course, as geologists we're always interested in learning more about how these features fit into the complex geologic evolution of our region and, in this regard, your rapid plate tectonic and genesis flood models are provocative. Therefore, if you have an hour or so to spare before your conference, we would like to invite you, personally, to an informal meeting with some of our faculty and students so we may gauge how well your models actually explain the details of the rocks and fossils we are so intimately familiar with. Better yet, if time permits, we could drive out to the field for a longer trip and you could explain the local geology at actual outcrops to our group in young earth terms. Note, in order to better facilitate scientific discussion, we would prefer to keep these activities unadvertised outside of our department so as not to create debate-like atmospheres. We envision friendly get-togethers among researchers and students to compare the predictions of your models with the evidence in the rocks.
As a flexible researcher who has simultaneously published both old-earth (and moon!) and young-earth models in the mainstream scientific and creationist literature, respectively, we hope you will accept this invitation. I look forward to your reply.
Date: Fri, 02 Mar 2007
Thanks for the quick response - your schedule certainly seems full. Regarding a seminar, we will pass on this format as the RATE conference will already be several days of formal talks. As per my initial email, what we have in mind is an informal, unadvertised discussion session between you and members of our department. For background, we acknowledge that Terra was a great piece of code writing and as your resume shows you have used it to support both old earth and young earth models. With the RATE conference coming to town, the latter is of most interest to us because from our perspective you have used it, quite frankly, to develop models that appear to violate nearly every scientific principle from gravity, electromagnetism, to the consistency of nuclear decay constants on down. Furthermore, the heat problems appear to be enormous and impossible to overcome without invoking miracles. That aside, as geologists who spend a good amount of time in the field we are most interested in the rock record and your rapid plate tectonic and genesis flood models make predictions that we should be able to clearly see in the rock record. As scientists, it is these predictions we would like to test. Therefore, because you don't have time for a field trip, what we have in mind is to spread out geologic maps and stratigraphic sections from the northern Rockies and other localities on a variety of scales, set out collections of rocks we are working on, look at geochemical and geochronologic data, and have you explain all this to us in young earth terms. For example, let's take a close look at the stratigraphy of southwestern Montana and you point out to us specifically which rocks represent the rise, peak, and fall of the flood waters. I imagine that this should be fairly straightforward because as I understand it the flood was a global event and therefore the geology here should not be markedly different from other areas you are already familiar with. Personally, I am interested in learning which rocks are flood and which are post-flood because I have been dating volcanic rocks in the region by the 40Ar/39Ar method. The data look excellent (all stratigraphically consistent with no apparent inherited argon). However, if they are flood rocks by your model I would need to recalulate the raw data using the new accelerated decay constants, which your group has probably worked out by now. If they are post-flood rocks then the data should be good using the present day observed decay constants, no?
In any case, thank you for offering to present a seminar, but we will wait for the RATE conference to hear more about your geophysical models. However, our offer still remains open for you to explain the geology of our region to us in young earth terms.
Another detailed suggestion outlining a course of action. The following is the next e-mail in the 'exchange' (or lack thereof)
Date: Thu, 08 Mar 2007
Please forgive me if I am being presumptous, but I will take your lack of response to my previous email (below) as an indication that you have, unfortunately, decided not to accept our offer to discuss with members of our department the geology of the northern Rocky Mountains in young earth terms. However, if I am wrong, please contact me soon so that we may schedule a meeting time. If I don't hear back from you, good luck with your conference.
Todd contacted me today and gave me the ok to post his e-mails on the blog. I'll keep you updated if anything further develops. It's precisely these sorts of invites that may be useful in the battle against young earth creationism and intelligent design. The key, I think is to make the invitation like this and then record the event (if any of them agree). For the record, I doubt that this is the sort of venue that would be pleasing to creationist. They must lay bare all their 'science' before people more knowledgeable (or at least equally so) than themselves. Baumgardner would simply be out of his league discussing flood geology with the geologists at Montana. He would probably do ok discussing the computer code for Terra and how it can be (mis)used to generate a global flood, but when it comes to ground truth, Baumgardner (or any other young earth creationist) does not have a leg to stand on.