Over the last few weeks we have been exploring crossbedding and the concept of horizontal deposition. Last week, we discussed the implications of a worldwide distribution of these rock layers all around the world – excellent evidence for Noah’s flood. This week, we’re going to begin to round up our exploration into this concept, and try to gain a fuller idea of the implications this brings.
In 1659, Danish scientist-turned-monk, Nicolas Steno, published a book, all about fossils and ‘stratigraphy’ the ‘study of strata’.
You see, at the time the majority of people were heavily influenced by the old Greek way of thinking, in particular the idea that fossils were fake, formed in the ground by the gods in order to trick us. Throughout the medieval times, this idea was extended to academics thinking, with Satan (the devil) being the culprit. Steno challenged this as he believed that God would not lie to or trick us. He believed that God created the world, and what we see around us could be trusted. Therefore, he concluded that if a fossil fish looked like a fossil fish……it probably was a fossil fish!
Of course, once you determine that fossils were once creatures, you have to answer the question of how the fossil got there. Nicolas Steno determined that the rock layers (and the fossils within) were buried during Noah’s Flood. He believed that all rock layers formed during Noah’s flood, and described a concept that became known as the ‘Principle of Superposition’.
This principle states that the bottom layer got there first, the top layer last, an idea we encountered back in our first blog post on crossbedding & horizontal deposition.
As we have discussed, this principle does not work in reality – sediment must be moving sideways, suspended in water. But we can’t really blame Steno for this. He was dealing with some terrible ideas about fossils and geology, and his work was really revolutionary.
In fact, it’s not really Steno’s work on the Principle of Superposition that is the real issue. It is more about what his successors did when they took that principle and began to apply it wrongly to the world around them, and took the concept much further than Steno ever intended to take it…..But that’s for next week!