Mining for the truth
Interview with geologist Jim Farquhar
Jim Farquhar, B.Sc., M.Sc., is a geologist who has worked in the mining industry, in Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Australia, for some 35 years. He has been employed by companies exploring for, and mining, gold, platinum, zinc, lead, copper and iron ore.
His Master of Science degree, for a thesis in geological data processing, was awarded by the University of New South Wales in 1998. He currently lives in Western Australia, where he works for Hamersley Iron, part of the large Rio Tinto group.
Jim is well known to me for his work as a volunteer with the Western Australian Support Group of Creation International Ministries. His geological expertise has often been invaluable in answering audience questions, as well as being an encouragement to people who have been led to believe that geologists would ‘obviously’ not believe what the Bible so clearly teaches about a young Earth and a world Flood.
When we met recently during his visit to our Brisbane office, Jim told me that he had been raised in a very strong Christian home, but to him it was just a lot of formality. He said, ‘I first realized that there was a bit more to this Christianity when I was about 14, at a Billy Graham Crusade in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia). I put my hand up with all the others, but that was it, nothing much really happened after that, until I was about 26, living in South Africa. My wife and I went to a Presbyterian church, and the elderly preacher (he couldn’t preach well at all, but he was a lovely guy) started Bible studies with us. Then I realized again what being a Christian was all about, and he led me through that, and I went home and shared it with my wife Hilary. She was then not particularly interested, but she also “broke down”? and we both became Christians about that time.’
Jim had already been working in the mining industry for some time, and just accepted the ‘standard view’ about the millions of years. He happened to pick up and read the classic The Genesis Flood, by John Whitcomb and Henry Morris.1 He said, ‘I realized that there was more to it than I had thought, possibly the Earth was a lot younger than I had been taught. But that was all there was available, and these American creationists seemed so far away, so for many years I just lived in a world that was sort of split, where there was a church thing and another life—a scientific life, a mining life. But then years later, when we were living in Australia, I came across the work of Answers in Genesis. They were putting on a weekend seminar, featuring their own Dr Don Batten, and two American guests, Drs Don DeYoung and Marvin Lubenow.
‘I couldn’t believe it’
‘I remember asking Don Batten at one of the breaks, “So what about this classification scheme of living things? We’re all linked together; isn’t the tree of evolution obvious?” His brief answer showed me that there might be another way of seeing things, so I thought I’d better have another look.’
Jim Farquhar realizes that ‘the truth and authority of the Bible’ is ultimately the major issue in Christianity, and that the major Christian doctrines are logically grounded in a literal, historical Genesis. He is excited when he talks about seeing ‘heaps’2 of evidence for Noah’s Flood ‘everywhere’. He told me, ‘If we look at what happens today in even small localized flooding, then read the Bible and what it says about the Flood and its' immensity, it’s more than feasible for that Flood to have caused all these huge deposits of sediments we see.’
‘Once we realize that fossils are not millions of years old, but mainly a record of God’s judgment on sin, then there is no record of death and bloodshed before Adam’s Fall. Suddenly it makes sense when the Bible talks of a once-perfect world, ruined by sin.’
Taking the Bible at face value also means a 6–7,000 year timespan since Creation. To Jim, realizing this truth has been immensely exciting. He pointed out that this meant that one’s own potential lifespan of 70 years was about 1% of the lifetime of the whole universe, which brought God that much closer. He said, ‘It makes life more meaningful. Because prior to that, your life is just a spot, and it’s insignificant. But since the world’s age is that much shorter, then each person’s life has more value.’
No need for millions of years
I asked Jim, with his extensive experience in mining, about the anticreationist claim that if the millions-of-years belief weren’t true, mining companies couldn’t find ore bodies. He replied, ‘The only reason that these presumed “ages”? are used in the industry is to give a correlation of rocks, to be able to say these rocks belong to a certain group, which is more, or less, likely to contain a particular type of ore. But this classification can be done in other ways, without any “millions of years”? tag to it. For instance, calling a rock system “Jurassic”? can be done based on the sorts of fossils generally buried in it, quite independent of the ages. For instance, where our firm is now mining, the sedimentary rocks labeled as “Precambrian”? are highly likely to contain iron ore. So that’s where we look for it. But you could just as easily classify these as “pre-Flood”? or “early Flood”? deposits. They could be classified by their position relative to other sedimentary layers, and the types of fossils they do or don’t contain. Such a classification would be just as useful to the mining industry, without any “millions of years”? attached.’
I asked Jim whether his many colleagues who believed in, or even taught, billions of years would recognize their bias. He agreed that many would not; but that when faced with the possibility that they might have been misled by such bias into believing something false, it was natural for many to become quite defensive, even emotional. He said, ‘If you think your whole life’s work has been based on a lie, it naturally causes a reaction. The difficulty is to get them to realize that it’s not that tied up with their work at all. Some 99% of our work as geologists has nothing to do with the millions-of-years belief at all. But this minor part has a major emotional impact, it seems.’ Which may be why some of his colleagues have reacted strongly at first about his belief in Genesis Creation. ‘One of them was really upset when he found out,’ said Jim. ‘He said “Come on, Jim, you don’t really believe that rubbish, do you?”? I think he was upset because he respects me. I like him, he’s a great guy. He made a bit of a scene and went home in a bit of a huff, but he has subsequently been very pleasant to me. He handed me a paper recently giving evidence for a younger Pilbara sequence than originally thought (still millions of years, of course) and said, “You’d better read this, I suppose it is your sort of stuff.”?’
Rocks don’t speak for themselves
Brave warriors with words
SummaryHow a Native American language helped win a war—and provided a subtle lesson for those who put their faith in evolution.
‘If not for the Navajos, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima.’ Iwo Jima is the famous site of one of the hardest-fought battles of WWII in the Pacific. One could thus be forgiven for thinking that the person making that comment must have flipped channels once too often between war films and westerns. Actually, the comment came from Major Howard Connor, signal officer for the 5th US Marine Division at Iwo Jima, and his opinion is now widely shared by military historians and tacticians.1
Connor was referring to the now-famous ‘code talkers’, Navajo Indians who were honoured in 1992 at the Pentagon for their unique and vital role in US victory in the Pacific.
A huge problem faced by the US military command in that theatre of war was that the Japanese were immensely skilled code breakers. The Japanese Chief of Intelligence, Lieutenant General Seizo Arisue, said that they managed to crack the codes used by the US Army and its Air Corps. But they never cracked the code used by the Marines.
This is because in 1942 a missionary’s son, Philip Johnston, persuaded the Marine hierarchy that the Navajo language, spoken only on the Navajo lands of the American South West, formed the ideal basis for an unbreakable code. Raised on a Navajo reservation, Johnston was one of the few non-Navajos to speak the language fluently.
Although it is an unwritten language with no alphabet or symbols, Navajo is as far from a ‘primitive, not-fully-evolved’ language as one could imagine. (Of course, knowing the true history of the world as given in the Bible, it is not surprising that there is actually no such thing as a ‘primitive language’.) It is in fact a language of immense complexity, whose structure and tonal qualities make it incomprehensible to anyone not very, very extensively exposed to and trained in it. At that time, probably only 30 non-Navajos in the world spoke the language, none of them Japanese.
The first 29 Navajo recruits to this task, in May 1942, created the ‘Navajo code’. The job of these ‘code talkers’ was to transmit information about vital battlefield issues over telephone and radio. Tests showed that they could encode, transmit and decode a three-line English message in 20 seconds, about 90 times as fast as machines of that era.
The code worked like this: each letter of an English word would be transmitted as a Navajo word which, when translated into English, started with that letter. Thus, an ‘a’ could be represented by more than one Navajo word, e.g. those for ‘axe’, ‘ant’ or ‘apple’. For speed, some common military terms were assigned just one Navajo word. Besh-lo (iron fish) and dah-he-tih-hi (hummingbird) meant ‘submarine’ and ‘fighter plane’ respectively.
As the battle for Iwo Jima raged furiously around them, six Navajo code talkers, working round the clock, sent and received around 800 messages in the first two days, all without error. In all, around 400 Navajo trained and served as code talkers during the Pacific war, and their skill, speed and accuracy became legendary. From 1942 to 1945 they took part in every Marine assault in the Pacific. Their exploits would probably have been publicly recognized earlier, if not for the continuing value of Navajo as a military code long after WWII.
There is an interesting parallel in all of this to a fact of biology. Inside each one of us, inside every living thing, in fact, there is a code, written with chemical letters on the backbone of the molecule everyone knows something about—DNA. This code carries the instructions which enable the cell’s machinery to manufacture the physical ingredients that make up a particular creature. One of the huge mysteries which honest evolutionists wrestle with is how such a code could arise in their naturalistic (‘it-can’t-be-allowed-to-be-miraculous’) scenario of origins. Because within this belief system there is not just one impossible hurdle to jump, but two.
The first is the fact that true information does not arise from a natural process (i.e. unaided by the action of mind—or of a program, which itself must originate in mind). If anyone should tell you otherwise, ask them to provide an example, being careful to provide accurate definitions of information.2 Don’t accept ‘analogous reasoning’ or ‘just-so’ stories—only factual, documented examples. There is perhaps nothing more certain than that if such a thing were ever observed there would be a rush to present the observer with a Nobel prize!3
The second hurdle is the one which most closely ties in with our report on the Navajo wartime achievements, namely that a code is absolutely useless to the recipient without the knowledge of the language. In the same way, let us say that the imaginary ‘first protocell’ to develop on the evolutionist’s hypothetical ‘primitive Earth’ had indeed somehow, mysteriously, developed the information coding for the manufacture of just one functional protein. Remember that natural selection is no help until one first has a self-replicating organism. Thus, chance would have to arrange thousands of letters in a specific sequence, an astronomically preposterous achievement.4
Even granting this gigantic ‘head start’, having such a code would be absolutely useless unless there was already in place the complex machinery which recognized every one of the DNA molecule’s chemical ‘letters’ and simultaneously translated them into the right amino acids. The Japanese hierarchy had no trouble accessing the Navajo messages; but the message was useless to them. Without the ‘translation machinery’ (the knowledge of the language and the way it was being applied), it was only a sequence of meaningless sound symbols.5
Just so, the whole notion of molecules-to-man evolution is, by any stretch of logical reasoning, without foundation—unable to even get off the ground at that early hypothetical stage. Attempts to solve this evolutionary puzzle are doomed to frustration, just as surely as were the Axis6 efforts to break the now-famous Navajo code—and for intriguingly related reasons.
References and notes
- The main source used here is: Navajo Code Talkers: Word War II Fact Sheet, researched by Alexander Molnar Jr., prepared by the Navy & Marine Corps WWII Commemorative Committee. <www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq61-2.htm> Return to text.
- Gitt, W., In the Beginning was Information, Christliche Literatur-Verbreitung, Germany, 1997. Dr Gitt is one of the world’s leading information scientists. His academic challenge to evolutionists on this matter has been unanswered for years—see In the Beginning was Information, right. Return to text.
- This refers to the origin of biological information. Evolutionists also have the problem of existing information increasing—this should be happening frequently if particles-to-people evolution is a viable, ongoing process. While it is faintly possible that some freakishly rare occurrence of this will be detected one day, so far even this has never been documented. See Spetner, L.M., Not by Chance!, The Judaica Press, Inc., New York, 1996 (right). Return to text.
- The late Sir Fred Hoyle famously described the chance of arriving at one such molecule by randomness as being like having the solar system packed shoulder to shoulder with blind men, each shuffling a Rubik’s cube, and having them all arrive at the correct solution—simultaneously! (Wieland, C., Rubik’s cubes and blind men, Creation17(4):52, 1995.) Return to text.
- In living things today, the translation machinery is itself encoded in the DNA, so the code cannot be translated unless there are about 75 products of its translation, a hopelessly vicious circle. Return to text.
- The Axis is the name given to the WWII alliance of Germany, Italy and Japan. Return to text.
- Using American Indian languages for encryption had been done before: eight members of the Choctaw tribe helped the US Army to encode messages in the First World War against Germany.
- &US President Ronald Reagan declared August 14 to be National Navajo Code Talkers Day.
- So it could never be captured, no written book of the Navajo code existed; the 400+ words assigned special meanings so they would not have to be ‘spelt’ (e.g. ‘submarine’; see main text) were all committed to memory.
- &Communications security is of the utmost importance in warfare. High-ranking military officers believe that the Second World War, and with it the entire course of history, might have had a different outcome without the Navajo code-talkers. Imagine if Philip Johnston’s parents had not left everything to go and preach the Gospel to the Navajo people.