@Professor Kent: I emailed some of your Everest remarks to …

Comment on New NAD president: ‘I love you’ doesn’t mean we won’t deal with issues by Sean Pitman.

@Professor Kent:

I emailed some of your Everest remarks to a highly-respected geologist colleague last week, and I think it would be best if I did not share his remarks here. The bottom line is that I think you stretch your facts too far to fit your compelling need to line up your ducks and know each one by its quack.

Why not post what he said? I’d be most interested. You can edit any inappropriate language if you wish, but by all means, do let me know the explanation your most esteemed geologist friend shared with you as to why sedimentary layers have not been washed off the Himalayan mountains many times over by now. After all, as far as I know, the facts I’ve listed off for you are rather conservative. And, I’m not the only one who has noticed a problem between the lack of erosion and the assumed time that certain surfaces are supposed to have been exposed to forces of erosion…

“Some of these rates [of erosion] are obviously staggering; the Yellow River could peneplain [flatten out] an area with the average height that of Everest in 10 million years. The student has two courses open to him: to accept long extrapolations of short-term denudation [erosion] figures and doubt the reality of the erosion surfaces, or to accept the erosion surfaces and be skeptical about the validity of long extrapolations of present erosion rates.”

– Sparks, B. W., Geomorphology. 3rd ed. Longman Group, London and New York, 1986.

Consider also a more recent paper published in 2008 by Yang Wang et. al. of Florida State University. Wang and her team found thick layers of ancient lake sediment in the high Himalayan mountains filled with plant, fish and animal fossils typical of far lower elevations and warmer, wetter climates. Paleo-magnetic studies determined the sample’s age to be only 2 or 3 million years old, not tens of millions of years old. In an interview with Science Daily she said:

Major tectonic changes on the Tibetan Plateau may have caused it to attain its towering present-day elevations rendering it inhospitable to the plants and animals that once thrived there as recently as 2-3 million years ago, not millions of years earlier than that [50-60 million years earlier as noted in the article], as geologists have generally believed. The new evidence calls into question the validity of methods commonly used by scientists to reconstruct the past elevations of the region… It is very exciting that our work to-date has yielded surprising results that are inconsistent with the popular view of Tibetan uplift.


And, in the abstract of their paper, Wang et. al. wrote:

Here we present carbon isotopic evidence, preserved in tooth enamel from 7-m.y.-old horses and rhinos from the high Himalayas, which indicates that, unlike modern herbivores in the area, these ancient mammals ate substantial amounts of C4 grasses. The presence of significant amounts of C4 grasses in the diets of these ancient mammals indicates that the climate in the area was much warmer and the elevation was much lower in the late Miocene than today. The carbon isotope data from the high Himalayas, after accounting for late Cenozoic global cooling and paleoatmospheric CO2 levels, indicate that this part of southern Tibet was less than 2900–3400 m above sea level in the latest Miocene. This implies that the present elevation of the area must have been attained after 7 Ma, much later than generally believed.


So, how does your geologist friend explain this apparent discrepancy between known erosion/uplift rates and the assumed ages of these mountain ranges? – not to mention the dramatic discrepancies noted by Wang et. al. when it comes to the dating methods used to estimate the ages of these mountain ranges?

Sorry, but you are misinformed. Ecological zonation is indeed the sanctioned explanation at SAU.

I didn’t say that ecologic zonation is not a proposed mechanism to explain certain features of the fossil record. I said that it was not the only mechanism. It is a reasonable mechanism to explain some, but certainly not all, features of the fossil record.

As I’ve already noted for you, ecologic zonation is one among many potential explanations for the sorting of various features of the fossil record. It is by no means the only explanation (even at SAU since I personally know several of the science professors there) nor is any one explanation completely adequate by itself to explain all of the features of the fossil record.

Note also that a complete explanation of the fossil/geologic record is not needed before one can recognize the significant weight of evidence for a recent catastrophic origin. You don’t have to understand or explain every aspect of the record in order to recognize that the weight of evidence that is understandable is clearly that of a catastrophic event that took place within fairly recent history…

Sean Pitman

Sean Pitman Also Commented

New NAD president: ‘I love you’ doesn’t mean we won’t deal with issues

Dear Sean

Of course this raises the issue of theodicy and a designer that planned for death and destruction. Not a pretty concept is it?

According to the Bible, God never intended for there to be any death or the suffering of sentient creatures in His universe. The death and suffering that now exists on this planet in the direct result of our own rebellion against God and His original plan.

As you have often acknowledged if biological life is indicative of design this does not necessarily mean, ipso facto, that biblical God is the designer of our universe. Based on what we see it could be a haphazard designer who built in catastrophe and death into the equation. It could be a dice thrower who if It threw the celestial dice often enough in enough metauniverses would eventually, randomly hit upon a design that would render evolutionary evolving life upon certain planets with the right physical properties.

Given the physical laws of the universe and of statistical probability in play in this universe that are known so far, it really doesn’t matter how many times the dice are thrown, evolution via the Darwinian mechanism would still be untenable.

Also, when it comes to the responsibility for suffering and death, you forget about the concept of the freedom of choice that God has given to higher level intelligences throughout His universe.

You earlier noted that EGW saw life on other planets. Why isn’t there life on all planets or only one planet if there is a design to the universe? Bit haphazard of a design isn’t it? I do not see a pattern there, unless it is one of random natural selection – life adapting to harsh environments where it is able.

Just because you might now have done it the way it is does not mean that there isn’t very good evidence of deliberate design. Also, what may appear to you to be poor design at first approximation may turn out to have been very good design once you learn more information.

Design flaw arguments have been around a very long time. Most of them end up becoming resolved once more information is discovered about the workings of the phenomenon in question. For example, the tonsils and appendix used to be routinely removed without any thought. No longer as it has since been discovered that tonsils and the appendix are functional parts of the body’s immune system. The same thing is true of the inverted human retina. It was once thought that the inverted retina was poor design; that no intelligent designer would have wired the human eye “backward”. This is no longer the case as many important functional features have been discovered for the inverted nature of the inverted retina that are ideally suited for the human condition.

So, I would recommend that design flaw assumptions regarding the nature of the universe are also just a bit hasty. Why not have planets and moons and even entire solar systems or galaxies that serve other functions besides to host living things on their own surfaces?

With respect, I think you are taking one of those ‘leaps of faith’ when you leap from the notion of design to the transcendent biblical God. Trite to say that all designers do not see the same design. Behe of the irreducible complexity argument clearly does not support young life on earth. He just sees life evolving from a later point than chemical soup.

Actually, Behe does not believe in any kind of evolution beyond very low levels of functional complexity. He clearly believes in an “edge” to evolutionary progress beyond which the mechanism of RM/NS cannot go. He is therefore a theistic evolutionist in that he believes that intelligent input was required to produce all higher level functional differences within the biosphere…

Look at the beginning of human life from a zygote. Clearly a repetitive design. Is human embryonics part of the evolutionary ‘design’ of simple celled organisms evolving to more complex ones? Arguable isn’t it? If God made Adam and Eve instantly in a day, why don’t we see a full formed miniature human formed on the day of conception?

Embryologic recapitulation has been falsified. There really is no such thing. If you care to study embrylology in just a bit of detail you will soon realize the extreme intricacy of what is required to get all of the developing cells to interact and fold properly to end up with the final product. It is the height of magnificent design and mechanical engineering – absolutely amazing.

Again, just because you might have done it differently does not mean that the evidence for design is therefore unrecognizable. Also, just because you may make a cake differently one day vs. the next doesn’t mean that the various methods of making a cake aren’t equally apparent as being the result of deliberate design.

Sorry Sean, but for me at least, there are a lot of gaps to fill before I can make the leap of faith you advocate. I have to slowly and methodically build those rational bridges across the gaps to make progress down the ontological brick road.

You cannot be more than you are. All I’m saying is that you’re missing out. You’ll only realize how much you’ve missed out once you get to the end of your yellow brick road and actually make the rational leap of faith to put your trust in God and start to develop a personal relationship with Him…

Your comments on my fence sitting are very apt and I appreciate your concern for my salvation. That is a far more kinder, humanitarian appeal than fire and brimstone- the ‘hard sell’! But you see I am not looking for personal salvation as a pre cursor for investigation of reality. In fact, with the greatest respect for all my Adventist friends, I see that need as something that would cloud my objective judgement. Just as I see an atheist bias doing the same as well. If my agnosticism comes at the price of my mortal ‘soul’ I accept that as the price of relentless objectivity. Sean, in that I hope you can trust in my absolute sincerity.

I do trust your absolute sincerity. In fact, I believe that if you really are absolutely sincere, that God will accept that sincerity and you will be saved in Heaven someday. However, in the mean time, you are missing out big time on the relationship and happiness that you could have had here and now. I realize that you cannot be more than you are, but you must also realize that this is no small issue for you personally. It might not mean a loss of your soul, but it certainly means a loss of what you could have had in this life regarding your own conscious realization of hope and happiness.

What concerns me about faith is the cart driving the horse when it corms to scientific investigation. My life long study suggests that all religions are social constructs of Man. That does not mean that I disparage faith or your faith. I find it quite remarkable and forth moreover a tool of moral and social order. I am especially interested in how religions schism over doctrinal differences and In I think Adventism is on the brink of that now, fueled by the debate of crescent creationism vs. theistic evolutionism.

You cannot escape the exercise of “faith”. Atheists and even agnostics make leaps of faith when they come to their conclusions regarding the nature of reality or the lack thereof. There is simply no escaping it. Science itself is based on making educated leaps of faith. All that matters is what faith you choose as most rational. Your agnosticism is your faith of choice – – that’s all.

Sean Pitman

New NAD president: ‘I love you’ doesn’t mean we won’t deal with issues
A little more regarding the erosion rates or “unroofing” of the mountain tops of the Himalayan region:

The 7000 meters of relief defined by Nanga Parbat and the Indus River reflect
long-term erosional unroofing rates within the massif as high as 5 mm/a^-1, and incision rates along the Indus as great as 12 mm/a^-1 (Burbank and others, 1996; Shroder and Bishop, 2000).


In the Mount Everest region of southern Tibet, granites both pre- and postdate an important fault of the system, the Qomolangma detachment. New U-Pb and 40Ar/39Ar geochronologic data for these rocks… indicate an average displacement rate of ≥47 mm/yr and a consequent tectonic unroofing rate of ≥8.2 mm/yr.


Together the geochronologic and thermobarometric data yield an average unroofing rate of 1.2±0.6 mm/yr for the High Himalaya of eastern Nepal.


Sean Pitman

New NAD president: ‘I love you’ doesn’t mean we won’t deal with issues

Sorry to be like a dog with a bone but what about the erosion rate on the Tibetan Plateau? If forest and steppe grew on it how much has it eroded?

As already noted numerous times, erosion rates are closely tied to slope angle. The Tibetan Plateau, being a plateau, has relatively little surface erosion because there is obviously no significant slope (the sloped edges of the plateau are a different story). This is why the average erosion rate of the surface of the Tibetan Plateau is less than 30 mm/ka while the erosion rate for the steep mountain slopes is around 4000 mm/ka.

Sean you have not presented any specific evidence to indicate that the Tibetan Plateau is 4000 years old.

Erosion rates are a good way to put a maximum cap on the exposure of certain features as erosional surfaces. The modern claim is that the Himalayan Mountains, to include Mt. Everest, have been at their current elevation as mountainous terrain for over 20 million years and have been uplifted as erosional surfaces for some 50 million years. Erosion rates on the mountainous slopes suggest that these ages are off by at least an order of magnitude. Other lines of evidence, such as that presented by Yang Wang on lake sediments, suggest the same thing… that the uplift of the Himalayas could not have taken place more than a couple million years ago.

This means that the uplift could have taken place much more recently than that. And, there are other lines of evidence that restrict the time of formation much much further – as I’ve already noted for you in this forum and on my website.

Some of these evidences include the very flat formation of the layers of the geologic column with minimum erosion between layers. The lack of expected bioturbation, universal paleocurrents on the surfaces of the sedimentary layers, the presence of significant amounts of radiocarbon within the fossils, the presence of elastic soft tissue and sequencable proteins within the fossils, the high mutation rate and rapid deterioration of the genomes of slowly reproducing creatures (i.e., the genetic meltdown rate puts a maximum cap on the age of many types of living things), etc.

All of these features are much more consistent with a very recent universal watery catastrophe or shortly-spaced series of catastrophes within recent history than with the mainstream interpretation of the geologic column, fossil record, and various geologic features like the Himalayan Mountains and even the Tibetan Plateau.

Like Dr Clausen. a GGI Adventist with a PhD in nuclear physics has said there is no young earth scientific model. Now I have read your website and read your critique on and old life on earth, but where is your young life on earth model? What is your scientific dating method?

As I’ve already explained, there is a young-life model that suggests that much of the geologic column and fossil record was produced by a recent worldwide Flood or very closely-spaced series of flood that were likely part of a single universal Flood – consistent with the Noachian story recorded in Genesis and more loosely in the nearly universal Flood legends of ancient cultures around the world today.

The evidence for the recent occurrence of such a Flood, as already noted, comes in the form of maximum age limits of many features associated with either the geology itself or the fossils or organic material within the geologic column. K-Ar dating, and other such radiometric dating methods, are not the only ways to reasonably estimate elapsed time – nor are these radiometric dating methods consistent with each other or other the other dating methods listed (as noted by Yang Wang).

Now, it’s fine to conclude that you really don’t have enough evidence to come to a reasonable conclusion in the credibility of the Biblical account – or even the existence of God as is your position. However, you do yourself a great disservice to remain in the boat you’re in. At the very least, the evidence for the existence of a Designer that is effectively indistinguishable by humans from a God or God-like Intelligence and Power is, in my opinion, enormous. Even many modern physicists are coming to this conclusion based on the anthropic features of the universe itself that are needed to make this place able to support complex life.


Given such evidence, how reasonable is it for someone to continue to avoid taking advantage of what God offers to those who believe in Him and ask for His personal help in daily life? I know it is nice to be in an unfalsifiable position. You can never be wrong because you don’t put yourself out on the line. It is very easy to simply avoid taking any position whatsoever on the existence of God – to be free to argue all sides without personally committing to one or the other. However, this fence-sitting position is not without its own costs and losses. You will end up loosing much that you might have had in this life if you remain on your fence…

Just something to think about. I do appreciate your natural kindness and apparent sincerity, but I do not envy you your position.

All the best…

Sean Pitman

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