Charles Darwin and Geological Time, Part Two

14 Feb

From .Copyright © 2013 Michael H. McGee. All rights reserved. Please feel free to share or re-post all or part non-commercially, hopefully with attribution.

Now I am going to shift gears and get into how Charles Darwin’s almost totally factual and accurate observations on the Theory of Evolution have themselves “evolved” into a fantasy world of mass delusion and science fiction which does not deserve the name of Evolution.

For this section of the story I will stick to the science of the nineteenth century, ending in 1906. After that date things changed, yet as I will show in later posts, remained the same fantasies as before 1906, with “Evolution” becoming a concept which Charles Darwin would never even recognize were he to come back and look at it now.

In Great Britain and continental Europe at the beginning of the nineteenth century, well before Darwin proposed his theory of Evolution, there was already underway a scientific movement to examine the “geological record” and from doing so compute the great age of the earth. Darwin’s colleague and friend Sir Charles Lyell was one of the prime movers of the “scientific” analysis and examination of the rocks on the surface of the earth with the intention of making statements about how old these rocks were.

There were many scientists involved in this effort, creating the academic disciplines of Geology and Paleontology. I will pick on Charles Lyell since he is a good example of the men who created mass delusions about the age of the earth, which were just as un-provable as the competing theological mass delusions including that the earth was created in 4004 BC.

lyell 2 Sir Charles Lyell

The mass delusions created by Sir Charles Lyell and his colleagues and successors persist until today as scientific fact, and they are just as un-provable and inaccurate now as they were then. It is time now to dispel the mass delusions of geological time and paleontologists which are held as gospel by our scientists even now, and are just as inaccurate and fantastic as the mass delusion dispelled by Darwin that all organic beings were created by God at one time in the exact form as they now exist.

I am giving here an historical narrative which I obviously obtained from published sources. In this blog I will not overcome the reader with masses of footnotes, yet I will say that I have the references for each of the facts stated, and I believe that my facts are accurate.

Sir Charles Lyell’s work generated the field of stratigraphy, which judges the age of a rock from its placement within a visible pile of rocks. In exposed areas of rock, the newest rocks are on the top and the oldest are on the bottom. In 1828 and1829, long before Darwin became active, Lyell traveled with Roderick Murchison, another prominent geologist, to the Auvergne volcanic district of France, and to Italy, to examine visually some large rock faces.

In these areas of Europe he concluded that the recent strata (rock layers) could be categorized according to the number and proportion of fossil specimens encased within. Based on this concept, he proposed dividing the Tertiary period into three parts, which he named the Pliocene, Miocene, and Eocene. He also renamed the traditional Primary, Secondary and Tertiary periods (now called eras) to Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic, which nomenclature was gradually accepted worldwide over the next few years.

Sir Charles Lyell and other geologists of the time stated as a scientific fact, based on their observations of visible rock strata, that the combined Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic time periods reached back in time 550 million years, not only in Europe but world-wide. This scientific canon was accepted throughout the nineteenth century, and is still accepted as such today. Yet we are confining ourselves to the nineteenth century.

Now how is it that by observing a few visible rock faces, anyone can say that this or that piece of rock is 550 million years old? How can we even say that it is a million years old, or give any age at all for a common piece of rock; or know whether the rocks in one place on earth are the same or a different age as those in another? Remember, there were absolutely no scientific instruments available which would provide any semblance whatsoever for a rational basis for assigning a particular age to any piece of rock.

Sir Charles Lyell did his own observations, and in addition he reviewed articles written by other geological explorers in different parts of the world, and had conversations with his colleagues who had also gone out and looked at rocks. This is how he came to the conclusion that his aging of the earth was valid worldwide and could be determined with great precision.

Now let’s do a thought experiment to see if the observations of Lyell and his colleagues were detailed enough, and went deep enough, to decide on the age of the planet back to at least 550 million years. You’ll have to trust me on these computations. I researched from at least thirty sources to get these numbers. I have the references on my computer, yet I will not deluge you with footnotes. If anyone disagrees with my numbers, please show me and I’ll revise them. I’m fairly sure they are correct, though.

The total cubic volume of the planet earth is 38.3 septillion cubic feet, from the surface to the center.

The total land surface area of the earth is 57,788,200 square miles. We will reduce that surface area by regions which were in the nineteenth century (and are now today) largely geologically unexplored; which are Antarctica, remote parts of Siberia, the Northwest Territories, and Greenland. With these reductions we find that the total land surface area of the earth which is able to be explored is 48,852,200 square miles.

We can very generously for purposes of argument assume that in nineteenth century half this area had been explored to a depth or height of one-half mile. This comes to 12,213,050 square miles of land surface at one-half a cubic mile of depth, which results in 1.7 quintillion cubic feet of land surface which was capable of being explored in the nineteenth century (and today as well). The 1.7 quintillion cubic feet also works out to 1.7 quintillion linear feet if measured only on the surface of each of those cubic feet.

Now remember that Sir Charles Lyell and his colleagues were observing these areas by sight only and basing their scientific conclusions on the history of the world on what they saw with their eyes. To be generous let’s assume that one man can hold in his vision maybe twenty linear feet of space side to side at any one time. So in order to view the whole linear surface of the earth would require the visual examination of 85 quadrillion separate views with the eyes. Lyell and his colleagues would have had to be very fast men to view even a small portion of the surface of the earth.

Of course what I’m saying is that Lyell’s conclusions, after observing such a beyond-minuscule sample of the rocks of the earth, without any instrument other than the eyes, would not pass any test of scientific reliability as far as I can see. He has no basis whatsoever to form any conclusions whatsoever about the nature of any of the rocks other than those actually seen, or about the age of the earth. The conclusions drawn by Lyell and his colleagues were based entirely on their imagination. There is no other explanation for what these men did with the paltry amount of information they had.

The mass delusions created by such men as Sir Charles Lyell were based on the magnificent intellectual arrogance of the nineteenth century British and European geological and paleontological researchers, who deeply desired to make a scientific discipline out of what was actually pure speculation. Some of these “scientists” may have even been jealous of the truths propounded by Darwin, and were desperate to come up with some “truths” of their own, even if they had to fudge the facts a lot.

How did Sir Charles Lyell and his colleagues in the 1820’s even come up with the concept of geological time in the millions of years arise? Likely we will never know. Yet please allow me to speculate on the subject. Even Sir Isaac Newton was a mystic, as were many of the British thinkers who followed. One mystical idea which was brought back to England by merchants of The British East India Company from the 17th century onward included the principles of Hinduism, including a belief in reincarnation over millions of lifetimes.

In fact the Hindu scriptures, which were written over 2,000 years ago, specifically refer to the earth being 4.5 billion years old. Other parts of these ancient scriptures refer to periods of time describing the birth and expansion of the universe equaling 311.04 trillion years. I got these numbers from an uncertain source, and so I’ll give you this source since I have no independent information on the subject:

Here once again I’m speculating. Sir Charles Lyell was a practicing lawyer for a few years before turning full-time to geology. He probably met and worked with merchants returning from India who brought with them stories of the Hindus and their concepts of time. He was a very gregarious man so he would have drawn from his clients all the stories of their days in India. So his thinking may have been expanded to include the ancientness of time by hearing of the Hindu concepts of time.

I find no evidence that Lyell himself was a mystic, yet the times he lived in in England were rife with extravagant mystical beliefs, which included spiritualism and past-life regression and words from the departed. He probably believed he had discovered something in the Hindu concepts. All he had to do was to wrap this mystical time line in a flashy packaging, in a way which would ensure its distribution throughout the world. If that’s what he did, it worked.

It bears repeating what Charles Darwin, a fervent and accurate observer of the natural world, said about the age of the earth:

But we continually overrate the perfection of the geological record…. We continually forget how large the world is, compared with the area over which our geological formations have been carefully examined…. It seems to me to be about as rash to dogmatize on the [ancient] succession of organic forms throughout the world, as it would be for a naturalist to land for five minutes on a barren point in Australia, and then to discuss the number and range of its productions…. We should not forget that only a small portion of the world is known with accuracy.

So it is not just me saying that the observations of geological scientists are rash and inaccurate. I am supported in this proposition by one of the greatest natural scientists of the nineteenth century, Charles Darwin.

The conclusions of these eminent nineteenth century geological scientists were accepted in the general culture as well as in the learned community as being valid and accurate. The “scientist” would simply look at a rock and then make a pronouncement as to how many millions of years ago this fossil was alive or this sediment was solidified. People wanted to believe we could see millions or billions of years into the past. They did then, and they still do now, just as people believe they can see their destiny in an astrological chart prepared by a Trained Astrologer.

It was almost inevitable that after 1859 these imaginers of the “geological record” and “paleontological dating” jumped onto the Darwinian bandwagon of evolution with a passion. They took Darwin’s work and twisted it in the latter part of the nineteenth century to mean that evolution proves conclusively that the earth is at least 500 million years old (and at least 4.3 billion years old as is now imagined). Our scientists of today are still riding on the horse stolen from Darwin, and they are still horse thieves, with no use other than to be thrown into a scientific jail.

In spite of the metaphor I just used, I’m not implying that any of these earnest men and women of science are bad people. They were and are doing the best they could with what they had. All around them the scientific establishment had incorporated so much fiction into the scientific canon with which they had been educated. It’s no wonder they had (have) no eyes to see or ears to hear the unrealistic qualities of what they’d (they’ve) been taught; and of what they were (are) passing on as teachers to the next generation.

Human consciousness must have its delusions, superstitions and creation myths. In wiping away a very dysfunctional older set of superstitious delusions, Darwin unintentionally created a hole in the ever-questing human imagination. This hole was filled by others, with the “most extremely modern views” of the nineteenth century, the new mass delusion. These men of science tied the mutability of species, including humans, with the developing myth of “geological time” (which was later morphed by other scientists to include “space-time”).

In so doing, they planted and perpetuated a new set of superstitions and gave them the credibility of Science. These new mass delusions persist until the present day. These mass delusions will continue to exist until someone comes up with a better set of concepts which will move hard scientific progress forward to the next level.

Fortunately, the set of geological and paleontological delusions which raged throughout the nineteenth century, and have continued until now, has generated much progress and done very little actual harm. The time is upon us, though, to consider the idea that progress in science is being impeded by the fantastical amount of time very brilliant scientists are spending on the delusional “evolutionary” thinking of the present day. The best efforts of these highly educated and motivated individuals are needed in other areas if science is to move to the next level.

So, it’s time to create a new description of time and geological age, one which will supplant the superstitions of the present and allow further material progress to move to the next level. The theory I propose is that we cannot know the age or the history of the planet Earth farther back than carbon dating allows, or any of its creatures including man any further back than the written record allows. (Further, we cannot know what is happening outside of our solar system, which is as far as we can see with any reliability. To be described later.) Further, in our lifetimes we will likely never know any of these things, no matter how hard we try.

Let me make it clear that I am not saying that the earth is not 500 million, or 4.5 billion, years old. It may be. The earth is probably at a minimum millions of years old. The point is that we literally don’t know the age of the earth, and we don’t know any timeline of the earth’s development. Those who claim we do know are engaged in delusional mythmaking and cannot claim any scientific accuracy for their claims. There is simply no evidence laying on the surface of the earth which can give any clues as to the actual age of the earth or how it came into being.

The advantage of new thinking is that our scientists can stop with their mystical speculations on the distant origins of man and other species and vastly remote geological time, and focus their energies solely on things which can be known by observation and experiment. With all this scientific energy focused on the material world which we can see, hear, and touch, there will be many scientific breakthroughs which now can only be imagined.

I’m not suggesting a return to the doctrine of logical positivism, which says that what is not verifiable by experiment is meaningless. I’m saying that men and women of genius often think they can understand things that are not understandable. I’m saying we should not spend our scientific time on things we can never know no matter how hard we try. I’m saying that two areas, the age of the earth and the age and structure of the universe, are unknowable at this time. Anyone who says they can scientifically describe these two items or any part thereof is participating in a mass superstitious delusion which impedes clear thinking.

For example, what if all the scientists who now spend their time concocting cosmological and geological fantasies were to focus their time and energy on how to actually feed the exploding population of our globe? What if all the scientists who now spend their time sitting at telescopes or digging and age-testing geological and fossil specimens were to focus their time and energy on how to locate supplies of minerals and ores which are needed in commerce, and increase the supply of fuels from the ground; and eventually meet the actual energy needs of our globe in a sustainable and non-polluting manner?

So while it is true that all these speculating and myth-creating scientists are doing no harm by their fantastic theorizing, there actually may be better ways they could spend their time, which could benefit all of us residents of the third planet from the Sun.

I believe that one of the reasons fewer American students are going into scientific careers is that at some level they can see that they will be binding themselves to careers as the makers of myths and practitioners of cosmological or geological mass delusion. In graduate schools most of these students are force-fed a diet of unreality, and required to buy into it in order to receive the coveted degrees necessary for them to work at the top levels in their fields or to become university professors, researchers, and industrial scientists.

In developing my theory I don’t want to underestimate the power of creative thinking or metaphysical musings, both of which are absolutely essential to the improvement of our knowledge of the world and all that’s in it. What I don’t like is imaginary fantasy stories, and mysticism masquerading as hard scientific truth.

To summarize, in the nineteenth century there was absolutely nothing tangible other than subjective visual location on which the dating of the age of rocks was based. A noble man of science would look at a rock outcropping, stroke his chin in contemplation, and then deliver an unshakable opinion as to the age of the rocks. This opinion would become scientific truth. (Most of these early “scientific truths” are still held to be the scientific truth today, almost without revision.)

To paraphrase the late comedian Fred Allen, “Nineteenth century geologists were people who counted the grains of sand in their bird cage and then tried to tell you how much sand there was on the beach.” All over the world geologists are still doing the same thing today.

When I was young I collected rock and fossil specimens of all kinds, and I still have some of them. So I know the feel of a rock in my hand, and the digging into the side of a mountain cliff. I also know that there was nothing written in the side of a cliff, or on a rock in my hand, which would have told me the geological age of the rock, or the fossil specimen, in my hand.

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