Re: Why not a Creationism vs Geology debate
Why do Creation vs Evolution debates get going so much more readily than Creation vs Geology debates?
I think it's because geology, unlike biology, lacks a simple, elegant theory like Darwinian evolution. Because the basic mechanism of evolution is very simple, it's easy to believe you can make profound statements about what it can do and what it can't. The geologists' theoretical toolbox, by comparison, is harder to learn, so people accept that it takes some studying before you can have a profound opinion about it.
This is a good argument, but it also entails some irony, in that geology was the first crack in the armor of Bishop Ussher's exegesis. Long before Wallace and Darwin advanced a theory of natural selection, people were aware of fossils (described by Herodatus, Aristotle and Xenophanes), and Pliny and others noted the deposition of volcanic ejecta, with the concomitant "trapping" of flora and fauna, as a result of eruptions. Eratosthenes, the Ptolemaic Greek scholar at Alexandria who made the first (and exceptionally accurate) attempt to scientifically measure the circumference of the earth (which he assumed to be a sphere) also commented both on the age of rocks, and the evidence of that age from erosion. Leonardo da Vinci recognized that fossil shells were the remains of aquatic animals, and that finding them in mountain ranges was evidence of geological uplift, and a change in the relationship of land and sea.
Nicolas Steno began the scientific study of sedimentary stratigraphy in the 17th century, and used the rock formations of Tuscany as evidence. (And this was about the time that Bishop Ussher published his 6000 year exegesis.) Others (don't recall the names) noted that coal beds were often "tilted" in comparison to overlying "horizontal" strata beneath which the coal were found and mined. Charles Lyell produced his monumental Principles of Geology
a full generation before Darwin and Wallace proposed the theory of natural selection--Darwin was on his voyage with Fitz Roy in HMS Beagle
when Lyell was preparing his work for publication. The second voyage of Beagle
, the voyage in which Darwin participated, began at the end of 1831, and Lyell's book was published three years before Fitz Roy returned to England.
I agree with Ros that it is interesting that there is no such outcry against geology as there is against evolution. Even those who don't subscribe to Bishop Ussher's 6000+ year exegesis still often cling to the notion that the earth is thousands of years old rather than billions. The member "real life" has stated more than once that although he does not subscribe to the 6000 year exegesis, he still believes that the earth is a matter of thousands of years old. I only mention his name because i don't think he would object to me stating what he has openly stated to me and others on more than one occasion.
To Thomas' comments on the relative simplicity of a theory of evolution in comparison to the difficulty of teaching geological principles, i would add that schools, especially secondary schools, are likely to concentrate a good deal of effort and attention on "life sciences," and far less on geology.