The contradictory and hypocritical geology of Tasman Walker
John Stear, Dr Ken Smith, Dr Kevin R. Henke, Dr Paul Blake, June 2006
Young-Earth creationist (YEC) Tasman Bruce Walker obtained a Bachelor of Science degree with Honours in Earth Science from the University of Queensland (UQ) in Australia. He also has degrees in engineering. Walker is currently with Creation Ministries International (CMI), formerly Answers in Genesis (AiG), where he is employed as a "Senior Staff Geologist". According to their website he's engaged in speaking, writing/editing and carrying out what is referred to as "geological fieldwork". Walker openly admits to adhering to a nonsensical pseudoscience called Biblical [or Flood] Geology. There are no doubt errors on Walker's web site as a quick glance revealed. For example, on this page, The power of models, Walker claims:
In the early 1900s, Niels Bohr used his imagination to make the first model of the atom...
Bohr certainly wasn't the first to propose a model for atoms. He based his ideas on Ernest Rutherford's discovery in 1911 that nearly all the mass of an atom was concentrated in the very tiny nucleus, and not spread out throughout the atom as in the "plum pudding" model proposed earlier. And going back at least to Dalton in the early 19th century there were models for atoms. Or, if you want to go back to the ancient Greeks and their indivisible small spheres . . . .This example might seem picky, but if Walker can't get elementary encyclopedia-based facts straight, how can we expect him to properly handle more technical issues?
On his website, Walker writes voluminously on his imaginary "Biblical Geology". He is particularly interested in (though not very knowledgeable about) The Great Artesian Basin (GAB). In his introduction he writes:
The rocks of the Great Artesian Basin, Australia, have attributes which, you will see, make them easy to classify within the biblical geological framework. You need to be familiar with the biblical geological model, its classification criteria, and the characteristics of different phases to appreciate the following discussion.
In other words, if geologists want to know the "Truth" about the Earth's history, they must first abandon 200 years of soundly developed and effective field methods (including a geologic time scale that is very effective in finding petroleum and ore deposits), throw away most of what they have discovered in the study of geology and palaeontology, and just rely on the Bible and adopt the YEC dogma that involves talking snakes, magical fruit and a worldwide flood. Geologist Paul Blake, in his Critique of Walker's flood geology, demonstrates in no uncertain way how bereft of science Walker's preposterous musings are.
The "Acknowledgements" page of Walker's bachelor's thesis is interesting. Nobody objects to someone thanking their spouse for support and encouragement, so we have no worries about the last item on the list, but people might have other thoughts about the preceding two. Here is what is written:
Andrew Snelling who encouraged me to undertake this project and for helpful discussions from a creative perspective.
The risen Lord Jesus Christ who five years ago called me to this task and who gives purpose and meaning to everything in life, including geology.
Lorraine Walker, my wife, who encouraged me to follow the call and patiently supported me all the way.
Dr. Andrew Snelling is a prominent YEC. Clearly, Walker was in contact with YECs before he began his thesis project. Furthermore, the table of contents of CMI's Technical Journal shows that Walker has been publishing YEC articles for them since at least August, 1996 (p. 241-257), or about two years BEFORE he obtained his BS. Although information from the CMI website shows that Walker was a YEC before he finished his thesis, the contents of his thesis indicates that he supported an ancient Earth! For example, in the middle of the first page of the thesis abstract, Walker proclaims
The age of the complex is 225 +- 4 Ma. All members have the same age. The individual ages determined using the 40Ar/39Ar (224.2 +- 4.8 Ma) and the Rb-Sr (225.5 +- 2.3 Ma) methods are within error of each other and in remarkable agreement. The results also agree within error of the previous K-Ar determinations (Webb and McDougall, 1967).
For those unacquainted with geological jargon, the abbreviation "Ma" stands for "million years". Additional statements from the text of his thesis further support an ancient Earth, which are blasphemous to the central tenets of young-Earth creationism.
Following are some more excerpts from Walker's thesis:
Chapter 7: Argon-argon age determinations, page 48: "By way of contrast [with K-Ar methods] the step heating technique of the 40Ar/39Ar method allows the loosely bound argon on grain boundaries to be distinguished from that within the core of grains. Consequently it is possible to tell whether any argon has been lost from the loosely held parts of each grain."
Page 48: last sentence: "This indicates that loss of loosely bound argon from the mineral grain boundaries has not been significant over geological time since the member was emplaced."
Chapter 8: Rb-Sr age determinations, page 56: "The Rb-Sr radioactive decay scheme was used to ensure that the results of Webb and McDougall (1967) and the present 40Ar/39Ar measurements were not affected by a common factor such as the incorporation of excess argon."
Page 56: middle: "The agreement between the spiked and unspiked whole rock samples for the Rb and Sr concentrations, and the ratios of 87Rb/86Sr and 87Sr/86Sr is excellent in all four cases."
Chapter 9: Isotopic correlations, page 62: "However the Sm-Nd method is better suited for dating mafic or ultramafic igneous rocks whereas the Rb-Sr method is more suitable to dating acidic and intermediate igneous rocks that are enriched in Rb and depleted in Sr. Furthermore, the REE [rare earth elements] are less mobile during alteration and chemical weathering than the alkali metals and alkaline earths. Consequently it is generally considered that rocks may be dated reliably by the Sm-Nd method even though they may have gained or lost Rb or Sr (Faure, 1986)."
All these indicate that Walker was working with standard ideas about rocks and dating and there is no suggestion that the methods might be in error, despite Walker's true YEC beliefs. In the first and second citations, Walker contradicts claims made by his mentor YEC Snelling that excess argon cannot be distinguished from radiogenic argon in K-Ar and Ar-Ar dating. On p. 56 of Chapter 8, Walker endorses the ancient dates in Webb and McDougall (1967) and various components of the Rb-Sr method. Finally, in chapter 9, Walker also shows his confidence in the Sm-Nd method to date mafic and ultramafic rocks and Rb-Sr dating in dating felsic ("acidic") and intermediate rocks. He even agrees with Faure (1986) and refers to Sm-Nd dating as being reliable. In this thesis, Walker has completely succeeded in hiding and denying his YEC identity to the reader. Would not most YECs equate this with denying the Lordship of Jesus Christ?
In defence of Walker's hypocrisy, YEC Jonathan Sarfati (scroll down to item on Dr Tasman Walker) quotes the following almost Machiavellian statement from YEC Don Batten:
Tas's thesis was an internal document and his supervisors knew his position. Tas was deceiving no one. Furthermore, Tas included in the thesis some interesting data which showed excellent 'isochrons' of non-radiogenic elements. Of course such nice lines cannot be the result of age. He made the point (gently) that, if such nice lines exist for non-radiogenic minerals, then how can we be sure that whatever physical/chemical processes were responsible for the non-radiogenic relationships were not also responsible for the lines relating radiogenic ratios which are interpreted as ages? His supervisor was not that happy about this material being included in the thesis, but nevertheless, Tas prevailed and it is there. So what chance would Tas have had if he had inserted an overt disclaimer about the inaccuracy of radiometric dates?"
Since what is under discussion involves assorted chemical elements and compounds, one would have thought that Sarfati, a chemist by training, would comment directly, rather than just quoting Don Batten, a plant physiologist. Nevertheless, a high value of a correlation between two quantities is only of peripheral interest unless there are good reasons for suspecting a relationship between the quantities. In one of the classic textbooks on statistical procedures, "An Introduction to the Theory of Statistics" by G. E. Yule and M. G. Kendall (14th ed., 1950) there is a section headed "Nonsense correlations" starting on page 315. This includes a table for the years 1924-1937 which Yule and Kendall describe in these words:
In Table 13.2 we show the number of wireless receiving licences taken out from 1924 to 1937 in the United Kingdom and the number of notified mental defectives per 10,000 in England and Wales for the same period. A glance at these figures shows that they are very highly correlated. The correlation coefficient is, in fact, 0.998."
The authors go on to say that:
... it cannot be contended that listening to the radio conduces to notifiable mental defects or vice-versa.
They then suggest possible reasons, but conclude that it's more likely that the correlation is simply an accident. If sufficient sets of data are analysed sooner or later a spurious correlation will appear, with absolutely no significance. This appears to be the case here, where ratios of isotopes are compared with concentrations of various chemical compounds.
YECs Batten and Sarfati also seem to think that it's perfectly fine to spout things that they don't believe as long as their audience knows that they don't believe them. Of course, this misbehavior is never acceptable in ethical science. Rather, it is more in the realm of politicians, faith healers, and used-car dealers. Walker simply has no moral justification for denying his YEC beliefs in his thesis and writing statements supporting an ancient Earth when he really doesn't believe it.
Walker's deception is not the first time that YECs have deceptively hidden their true beliefs in their professional papers. Andrew Snelling is also guilty as shown here:
Will the Real Dr. Snelling Please Stand Up?
Snelling's Doublethink Seeps into the Creationist Literature
Dr. Snelling's defence of his contradictory and deceptive statements on the geologic record is equally pathetic and immoral. No one should publish statements that they can't endorse!
Shortly after graduation, Dr. Walker joined the AiG (now CMI) staff. As stated on his biography page at CMI's website:
Recently, Dr Walker returned to university study, and completed a Bachelor of Science majoring in Earth Science, followed by First Class Honours in 1998... On 18 January 1999, Tas joined the full-time staff of Answers in Genesis [now CMI] in Brisbane. [my emphasis]
When AiG personnel hired Walker, they definitely knew that he was prepared to abandon his geological learning and sign the dogmatic CMI statement of Faith. So they welcomed him with open arms. By signing this statement of "faith" and agreeing to NEVER accept any scientific data that contradicts their biblical dogma no matter how overwhelmingly solid the data, Dr. Walker has prostituted any remaining scientific integrity that he may have had.
In blatant contradiction to the ancient dates endorsed in his thesis, in his article for CMI, A giant cause, Walker states:
Andrew Snelling has written some authentic geological articles on Mt. Ngauruhoe in New Zealand as indicated in Snelling's Doublethink Seeps into the Creationist Literature. However, he was not completely successful in "creationising" his secular statements when they were imported into his YEC articles. Snelling's statements betray a false allegiance to geological dates that contradict his 6000 to 7000 year dogmatic proclamation for the age of the Earth.
Dr Ken Smith, Honorary Research Consultant, Department of Mathematics, and Chaplain's Assistant, Chaplaincy Services, University of Queensland;
Dr Kevin R. Henke, University of Kentucky, USA;
Dr Paul Blake, Honorary Secretary, Geological Society of Australia (Queensland Division)