Creation Science

Creation Science Exposed -

The "Desert" Problem


by Greg Neyman 

First Published 2 Feb 2003

Old Earth Ministries Website

(This article can be freely copied and distributed, as long as it is unaltered and a link back to the original article appears on the page)


     Young earth creationists have a problem.  According to their creation science model, all the fossil-bearing rock layers in the world need to be created during the Flood of Noah.   Fossils, in ancient rock layers, imply that death occurred before the Fall of man, which is contrary to their interpretation of Scripture. 


     The most visible rock layers in the world are those in the Grand Canyon.  For many years young earth creation scientists have invested a lot of time and research into the Grand Canyon.  They believe that if they can find a model to explain the canyon rocks, then their followers will probably accept the rest of the earth’s rocks as young.


Coconino Sandstone


     One of the problems that the young earth model encounters in the Grand Canyon is the Coconino Sandstone.  I’ve already discussed this in another article, so let me only summarize here.  Geologists have stated that this formation of 315-foot thick sandstone was created by a desert environment, and is a deposition of wind-deposited sand dunes.


     The problem for young earth creation science is that this rock layer is topped by two other fossil-bearing marine rock layers, the Toroweap Limestone and the Kaibab Limestone.  This presents a problem to the young-earth model because if the sandstone originated by wind, then obviously it could not have been produced by Noah’s Flood.  The young earth scientist would have to explain how the water receded, then the sandstone formed, then the water came back and deposited the other layers.  However, in the Biblical Flood account, the waters rose, then fell.  There were no cyclic water levels, nor was there a massive amount of time during the flood for a desert environment to create a 315-foot thick rock layer.   The desert formation of this sandstone would disprove its formation during the Flood, and would disprove the young age of the earth.


     Several young earth creationism experts have attempted to explain this away, claiming that this sandstone was created underwater, and thus is not a desert sandstone.  I dispute this theory because their model does not have the necessary forces to create the Coconino Sandstone (see their article here, and see my rebuttal here).   However, that is not the purpose of this article.


     Other sandstones which are desert in origin will also disprove the young age of the earth.  Therefore, the young earth scientist must discredit every desert sandstone in the world.  If one desert sandstone exists with a fossil-bearing ocean-deposited layer on top, it discredits the entire young earth creation science flood model, and proves the old age of the earth.


     Let’s look at another desert-origin sandstone.


Navajo Sandstone


     I’ll start with the Navajo Sandstone.  This sandstone is most evident in the tall cliffs of Zion Canyon National Park in Utah.  The thickness of this formation varies from 1,600 to 2,200 feet.  It is evident from the excellent cross-bedding in this formation and other features that this is created from a desert environment.  Below the Navajo there are thousands of feet of rock layers, including the layers of the Grand Canyon.  Again, please note…all the layers of the Grand Canyon are below the Navajo.


     Looking at the rocks above the Navajo, the problem for the young-earth scientist gets even more complicated..   Looking at the Navajo at Arches National Park, there are at least 1,500 feet of rock layers above the Navajo at this location alone.  The first is the Entrada Sandstone, which consists of three units, the Moab and Slick Rock members, (which are themselves desert dune sandstones), and the Dewey Bridge Member, which is about 200 feet of marine deposits.  Above this is the thin Summerville Formation, siltstone from a lake/lagoon environment.  Then comes the most serious problem for the young earth model...the Morrison Formation.  This formation has yielded thousands of dinosaur fossils, supposedly killed during Noah's Flood.  Above the Morrison are the Dakota Sandstone (beach environment) and the Mancoa Shale (shallow marine). 


     In fact, all the dinosaur fossils are far above the Grand Canyon sediments.  The young earth model says the Flood killed most of the dinosaurs1...and according to their model, all the layers of the Grand Canyon were deposited during the Flood2.  That is over 1 mile of sediment.   The first dinosaur fossils appear in the Chinle formation, which is two formations above the Grand Canyon layers.   

     How did these dinosaurs survive the deposition phase of the flood, which deposited over 8,000 feet of sediment before we see the first dinosaur fossil?  Young earth creation science explanations (see sources below) fail to offer a valid explanation of this problem…they make absolutely no sense out of the solid facts of the rock layers. 


     Given the young earth creationism model, the flood waters must have created all these layers.   However, you can’t have Flood-deposited rocks of the Grand Canyon, topped stratigraphically by a desert sandstone, the Navajo, to the north of the Canyon, and then covered by more sea-deposited layers. None of these layers above the Grand Canyon, including the layers above the Navajo, can be accounted for by the young earth model.




     The Coconino and Navajo are only two desert-created sandstones.  No doubt the desert formations in China and Mongolia would also disprove the young age of the earth.  I will post others here, as I have time to research them.  Unfortunately for the young earth creationist, it only takes one example of desert sandstone to disprove the young age of the earth.  As you can see, the earth is old, just like the geologists have told us, and just as God’s creation testifies.



1 The Extinction of the Dinosaurs, by Michael Oard


2  Grand Canyon: Monument to Catastrophe, by Steven Austin (book, from the Institute for Creation Research)  (see my Grand Canyon section under Articles to see my review of this book.

     If you are not a Christian, and you have been holding out on making a decision for Christ because the Church always preached a message that was contrary to what you saw in the scientific world, then rest assured that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, and you can believe in Christ and receive salvation, while still believing in an old earth.  Click here for more.


    Are you a Christian who believes in young earth creationism?  Now that we have shown the many difficulties of the young earth creation science model in this and many other articles, how does this impact your Christian life?  If you are a young-earth creationism believer, click here.

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Other Relevant Old Earth Ministries Articles

 Coconino SandstoneA desert sandstone in the Grand Canyon

 Navajo SandstoneA look at another desert sandstone



 Old Earth Belief

Can You Be A Christian and Believe in an Old Earth?  

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