Eric Hovind Just as Inane As His Father

With his father in prison, Eric Hovind has taken over the creationist franchise and is making arguments every bit as idiotic as dear old dad. With flooding in Pensacola, Florida, Eric is claiming that the mere fact that lots of rain washes away sand proves that the Grand Canyon could have been made the same way. Here’s a video of him spouting this nonsense:

Not the sharpest bulb in the sign, to say the least. This is an even dumber version of geologist Steve Austin’s incredibly dishonest arguments about the Mt. St. Helen’s eruption, which created Engineer’s Canyon when water burst through an earth dam. The creationist argument goes something like this: “Hey, that created a bunch of layers really fast. The Grand Canyon has a bunch of layers too. That proves that the layers of the Grand Canyon were created really fast too.” To call this bullshit would be insulting to bullshit.

Yes, places like Engineer’s Canyon, formed by the St. Helen’s eruption, have “layers”, but those layers are all made up of materials typically found in volcanic eruptions – mud, ash, debris, and so forth. A geologist who didn’t witness the eruption would still look at those formations and easily recognize them as all being associated with a volcanic eruption.

The Grand Canyon’s “layers”, on the other hand, are not all comprised of material one would associate with a volcanic eruption. In fact, they are comprised of a vast series of strata of different types, each requiring a distinct and long-lasting depositional environment in order to have time to form. The bottom layer is the Vishnu Group, mostly granite and precambrian rock. Above that, it’s all sedimentary rock, each layer deposited in an entirely different environment, in roughly this order from the bottom up:

Tapeats Sandstone: This is the oldest of what is called the Tonto Group, large strata formed at the edge of an ancient body of water called the Tonto sea. 300 feet thick, comprised of near-shore and sandbar deposits from the edge of that sea.

Bright Angel Shale: 325 feet thick, full of trilobites and other brachiopod and mollusk fossils, as well as lots of tracks, trails and burrows from animals. Formed in a shallow marine environment as the Tonto sea encroached further on land.

Muav Limestone: The last of the Tonto Group formations. 375 feet thick, with more trilobite and brachiopod fossils and yet more invertebrate tracks and trails. This was deposited as the Tonto sea encroached even further on the land.

Redwall Limestone: 500 feet thick. Like most limestones, this one is made up of the shells of sea creatures, made of calcium carbonate, after they die and settle to the bottom of a shallow sea. A 500-foot thick limestone takes an incredibly long time to form and it’s not possible for all of those sea creatures whose dead bodies are in the formation to have lived at the same time. This formation requires a shallow, relatively tranquil marine environment for a very long period of time in order to form.

Supai Group: 900 feet thick and a variety of different types of formations, most of them eolian (meaning wind-blown) desert sandstones. Most of this formation was formed on dry land, though part of it is was formed underwater as part of a river delta going into the sea.

Hermit Formation: 300 feet thick. Like the Supai Group, this is made up of a number of different types of rock depending on where you are in the canyon. There are lots of animal tracks and burrows, as well as mudcracks and raindrop imprints, which shows that parts of this formation was exposed as dry land at times. There are also a lot of plant fossils, which is quite a problem for any creationist explanation based on the ability to flee raging flood waters.

Coconino Sandstone: 350 feet thick. This is an eolian desert sand dune formation, a massive system of ergs that stretches all the way to Montana. One obviously has to ask how on earth such a massive desert formed in the middle of a global flood, as the creationist explanation requires.

Toroweap Formation: 250 feet thick. The most diverse of all the canyon formations in terms of different types of sediments, the result of a shallow sea advancing and retreating over a large land area (that’s why there are gypsum and salt deposits, which evaporate as the sea retreats). The water moved in from the West and as you go West in this formation you find marine fossils of various types, including snails, clams and shellfish.

Kaibab Formation: 350 feet thick. Another shallow marine limestone and dolomite formation, with sandstone toward the East (obviously part of the shoreline, a mixture of eolian and subaqueous sandstones). Shallow marine fossils, as one would expect.

So, what does all this mean for the claim that Mt. St. Helen’s formed a “miniature Grand Canyon”? It means this is positively laughable. The layers of ash and mud formed by the eruption is not at all analogous to the vast strata of the Grand Canyon. This isn’t comparing apples to oranges, it’s comparing apples to meteors. The only reason this lie works is because the average creationist reading ICR material doesn’t have the foggiest idea that the different strata of the Grand Canyon requires entirely different depositional environments in order to form.

The rocks that make up the Grand Canyon formed over the course of 250 million years or so, as the environment changed radically over vast periods of time. Sometimes a shallow sea, sometimes a vast desert. It did not form – indeed, could not have formed – in a single event, especially a huge flood. 25,000 square mile deserts, such as the one that forms the Coconino Sandstone, don’t just pop up in a few days and then disappear, especially in the middle of a flood for crying out loud. These lies only work on the geologically ignorant.

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  • Richard Smith

    “Geologically ignorant” = head in the sand (or… sand in the head).

  • Kevin Kehres

    Well, considering who Eric had for a science teacher growing up, I can’t say that I’m surprised by his total ignorance about anything having to do with the subject.

  • I live in Pensacola. The recent severe weather dropped over 2 feet of rain in 24 hours. We have 35 closed roads, sinkholes riddled throughout the city, and people have lost their homes and businesses (thankfully there have been few fatalities- although that could change).

    What we do not have are canyons, grand or otherwise.

  • Abby Normal

    To put it in terms a child could understand, an onion has layers, parfait has layers, but only one of them is like an ogre.

  • Kurt

    Well, with that airtight and ironclad logic, he’s convinced me! I definitely believe that Noah and his family must have lived in Pensacola.

  • Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

    It’s not the stupidity that strikes me so much as the evident pride they have in how clever they think they’re being.

  • Crimson Clupeidae


  • Doc Bill

    Hovind the Younger didn’t mention the broken water main, either!

    Fountains of the Deep?

    Can you imagine the stupidity that awaits us in a few years when Hovind the Felon gets sprung? It will be a second coming!

  • lochaber

    And remember, the flood that cut the grand canyon and exposed those rock layers also made all the fossils found in those layers by drowning critters.


  • Just to be a little pedantic, Ed, that’s quite an elision there between the Vishnu and the bottom of the Tonto group — like about 1.2 _billion_ years. Not only that, the Great Unconformity is nearly trans-continental. Who knows where all that shit went.

  • jazzmac251

    Let’s put aside the fact that this is a stupid, factually incorrect position for a second.

    What the fuck does “time or water” mean in this context? Seriously. The phrase makes such little sense that it goes well past asinine. He’s standing around devastation caused by flooding and asking people whether “water” or “time” caused the damage. How are these people not looking at him with a blank, confused stares and sincerely asking him what in the holy fuck that question could possibly mean? “Time” is not a legitimate rhetorical alternative to “water” in this case.

    And that guy around 3 minutes in being all smarmy and cute while sarcastically arguing that it was “obviously” time that caused the damage. That shit is utterly infuriating. How does he not recognize that his failure to present a decent argument for how “time” caused the flood damage they’re standing next to – even sarcastically – reflects not the fallacy of the other side’s argument, but rather his own failure to comprehend even the basics of his opponents’ position. These people are too stupid and insulated to even begin the earliest phases an honest conversation. Nobody should pay any attention to them ever again. Their beliefs are akin to a mental handicap, and making fun of them is on par with poking fun at the disabled.

  • The other big problem is the Grand Canyon was/is the erosion of hard rock, not the loose sand and dirt that washed away in Florida. You can’t wash away hard rock like that in a short amount of time. Not in 40 hours, days, years, centuries…

  • Childermass

    I’ve been to the Grand Canyon. It is a remarkably local phenomena. There is utterly nothing unusual until the moment one hits the rim. Would not a global flood cause things which are a bit more global?

    Funny thing how the Grand Canyon look like a river path doing stuff like meandering which is not something that one would expect from a flood. I presume that creationists thing the Deluge created the stuff upstream of what is in the formal park? In a tributary in Utah there is something that is just jaw dropping: Goosenecks State Park. Any creationist is welcome to explain how a flood carved that out of mud? (You might have to pan out with your mouse wheel after clicking.)

    As another pointed out, the unconformities show that there are gaps in time which are inconsistent with young-earth crap.

    Of course the video is nothing more than a straw man knocking down a misconception that many ignorant people had about geology: that it is all done via a tiny fraction of a millimeter per year. No competent geologist right down to Charles Lyell himself has ever believed that.