I sent the following letter to the Chief Editor of the Geological Society of London on 3 November 2017. It began an exchange, which is included, below.
My request letter:
In his 1831 president’s address to the Geological Society of London, Adam Sedgwick renounced his belief in a worldwide flood. He stated, in part:
The vast masses of diluvial gravel … do not belong to one violent and transitory period. It was indeed a most unwarranted conclusion when we assumed the contemporaneity of all the superficial gravel on the earth…. Having been myself a believer [in a worldwide flood], and, to the best of my power, a propagator of what I now regard as a philosophic heresy, … I think it right … thus publicly to read my recantation. (Sedgwick, A. 1831. Address to the Geological Society of London, on retiring from the President’s Chair, February 18.)
It was a celebrated pronouncement, for Sedgwick was not only the Society’s president, but he was also a Cambridge University professor as well as a clergyman in the Church of England. Sedgwick’s recantation had lasting effect: to this day, all of science accepts that there was never a worldwide flood.
Unfortunately, Sedgwick’s ‘no flood, ever’ conclusion is indisputably wrong. From the evidence, Sedgwick instead should have concluded: presently exposed landscapes were never submerged by a common flood. It is undeniably true that where we are now was never flooded by a common event, but that is not equivalent to the claim that there was never a worldwide flood. Sedgwick mistakenly passed judgment on vast, submerged landscapes that could not be observed until only recently. By assuming that all of Earth’s waters have been with us since the beginning, Sedgwick’s error precluded the possibility that now-submerged landscapes might once have been exposed and then flooded (say, at the Younger-Dryas boundary).
Because of its far-reaching effects, the Geological Society of London must retract Sedgwick’s recantation. Sedgwick’s was an honest error, yet its far-reaching effects on subsequent science necessitate that his finding be retracted. Science must be allowed to explore the possibility that there was, indeed, a worldwide flood.
Michael Jaye, Ph.D.
Dear Dr Jaye
Thank you for your email.
Many papers have been published in the past that have been proved wrong by later research. Retracting such papers serves no useful purpose and we will therefore not retract Sedgwick’s 1831 Presidential Address.
Prior to my retraction request, it is nearly certain that you were unaware of the source of your belief that there was never a worldwide flood. Like nearly all modern geologist-PhDs, you simply accept “no flood” as true, much as a mathematician accepts an axiom.
All geology and related disciplines such as anthropology and history follow the “no flood, ever” tenet initiated by your Society. Thus, great parts of modern thought and beliefs are affected by Sedgwick’s error. “No flood, ever” is pervasive.
Therefore, retracting the erroneous “no flood, ever” would serve immense scientific and human investigative purposes. Sedgwick’s error must be retracted.
Dear Dr Jaye
Whether or not there was a worldwide flood is immaterial. As I said in my first email, many papers were published in the past whose conclusions have been superseded by later research. Retracting such historical papers serves no useful purpose.
BTW I believe there has been some geological research that suggested evidence for the biblical flood.
The central issue is whatever it is you happen to think constitutes a ‘useful purpose.’ Certainly, the ‘no flood, ever’ error is historic, but it is predominantly a scientific matter because it continues to affect modern thought. The error’s pervasiveness and lasting effect render moot your argument that rests on when the error was committed.
Furthermore, ‘no worldwide flood, ever’ is a foundational principle in your science, so much so that anyone confronting it is immediately discounted. (I know, for I have submitted papers to journals about this matter – including yours, and I have experienced the prejudice geologists practice against anyone daring to challenge ‘no flood.’) Geology has an entire sub-discipline, submarine geomorphology, that is built upon the error. Its practitioners – your peers – are wholly unaware of all that might be wrong in their beliefs and findings. In addition, another branch of science, Anthropology, is adversely constrained (and therefore affected) by ‘no flood.’
Because ‘no flood, ever’ is indisputably incorrect, because it pervades all contemporary science and associated modern thought, then there exists a useful, if not necessary, scientific purpose in retracting the error. Therefore, the Geological Society of London must publish its retraction of Sedgwick’s ‘no worldwide flood’ blunder. It is the most profound error in the history of science.
Michael Jaye, PhD
The final reply:
Dear Dr Jaye
We are not going to retract a paper published in 1831.
This discussion is now closed.