When I began to read The Map That Changed the World by Simon Winchester, I began to wonder what it would have been like to be William Smith, finding different strata in the rocks and discovering coal…coal that could be traced and mapped. Having no background in geology, I thought: “I wonder if Bill has read this book?“ My friend, – Bill Kane is a geologist. He is an expert in his field as he has an MA and PhD in Civil engineering and Geo Technology Engineering. Twenty-five years ago, he started his own business called GeoTech which aids with geohazards, rockfalls, and avalanches. While I was reading Winchester’s book, I thought I might pose some of the questions I was having to Bill. What would Bill think of the author’s use of the story of William Smith and how evolutionary thoughts tied into this? I was curious what views Bill had regarding dinosaurs and the flood. I also wondered what he might think of how Christians, particularly the clergy, were portrayed by the author. I quickly texted Bill and his wife Judy to find out if he had read this book and he said he had! It did not take long for them to invite my husband and I over for lunch after church one Sunday, with the intention of enjoying a meal together and discussing this book.
I must share that Bill considers himself to be a “recovering professor” as he taught geology at three different universities. He taught evolution as a fact and never questioned this theory in all his academic years until the day he began to read the Bible. Today, Bill teaches on Creation at our church as he has done much research in Creationism. In addition to the Bible, Bill read the book Genesis Flood by Henry Morris. Bills ideas on geology took a big shift when he read this book and became a Christian. In this blog, I will discuss the interview I had with Bill and the questions that I had regarding The Map That Changed the World.
My initial question was what Bill thought of the author’s use of the story of William Smith. Kane says of the author: “How much did he really think of William Smith? Smith had good observational skills and kind of got screwed by the system and he ended up in debtors’ prison because someone stole his idea for the map. He couldn’t make any money on the map. The canal company had fired him. When he got out of prison his home had been sold and his wife was crazy. I believe the author used William Smith as a foil to present his own ideas- promoting evolution.” Bill’s conclusions made me suspicious of the author’s intentions in writing this book.
I asked Bill if he would explain the beginning of creation until the time of the flood. Kane strongly disagreed with Hutton, who believes “the present is the key to the past.”  Hutton’s theories were created while Darwin was theorizing over evolution which proposed that small changes happened over long periods of time. Kane says that the theory of evolution needs 4.5 billion years. Kane holds a younger earth theory where changes do not need long periods of time for great changes to occur. Kane explained to me the Cambrian explosion of life. According to the Cambrian explosion of life, worms that lived in the sand (pre-Cambrian life) quickly turned to having animals on the planet. How could this be? I was curious to know more about the Cambrian explosion and the span of years from this explosion until the time of Noah. Kane stated, “2,000 years. According to evolutionists, the Precambrian period lasted 500 million years. What we can find in geology are sea creatures that go back to the Cambrian Explosion which dates back 2,000 years. Sea creatures are at the bottom of the pile. That is the coal that we have today.”
Our discussion turned to the dinosaurs and my asking: “Please help explain the dinosaurs.” Kane replied, “Dinosaurs were on the earth when Noah was on the earth. We have found fossils of dinosaurs. People have trouble with this.” I wondered: “How did people co-exist with dinosaurs?” Kane’s response was interesting: “How do we exist with wolves? We just don’t go there, right? The dinosaurs stayed in their part of the land and people stayed along the coastal areas. In the flood geology explanation, the continents were together forming a large mass land. The dinosaurs were in the middle of this land mass where there was a lot of vegetation. Humans did not go to these places. When the flood came, the people and dinosaurs attempted to go to the higher ground. There were many landslides as the earth was colliding. The earth was covered with water for a year.” I was curious if the dinosaurs got on the ark. Kane said, “Yes, but we have this blown-up idea that dinosaurs were all huge. Many of them were not. An example of a dinosaur is a Komodo dragon. We do know of Index fossils (certain animals found in the rocks). There was a female professor in Wyoming who found some tissue of a T-Rex. She put this tissue in some acid and discovered blood cells. If dinosaurs were millions of years old, these blood cells would not have been able to be discovered. People need to reckon with these new discoveries but instead they come up with new theories to support evolution.” I had not heard of some of these ideas and was grateful to hear Bill’s perspective.
The author made light of some of the characters in his book and used clergy as a target for mockery. Kane noted, “On page 12 we find the author making fun of James Usher. The author ridicules Usher by stating that he “managed to convince his clerical colleagues” that his findings “were impeccably accurate, God had created the world and all its creatures in one swift and uninterrupted process of divine mechanics that began on the dot of the all-too-decent hour of 9a.m. on a Monday, October 23, 4004 B.C.”  Kane does not believe this is good writing as he pokes fun at Usher. Kane highlighted another example, “On page 111 the author gives an example of” Reverend George Young, from the Scottish village, who was a theologian attracted to the mysteries of fossils. Young had been taught by John Playfair, one of the giants of geology.” Playfair had discovered in 1819 the “gigantic reptile ichthyosaur identified as Leptopterygius acutirostris.” The author uses derogatory language on page 112 to describe Young and his findings: “the science he advanced in Scriptural Geology was not overendowed with logic.” He also described him as having a “dreamily unscientific view.”  Winchester pulls some ‘pot shots’ as these examples are meant to cast creationism in an unfavorable light.
My interview with Bill was much livelier than what you read in the thoughts I have spelled out here. Our Sunday afternoon was filled with good food and humor in addition to our book review. As a geologist, Bill was able to recognize where Winchester wove in his ideas on evolution. I am grateful to learn how the Cambrian explosion provides a good explanation for the beginning of creation as well as the legitimacy of the flood. It was interesting to identify where Winchester put down certain characters with the intent of elevating evolutionary theory. I learned a great deal from Bill, and I am eager to sign up for the next class that he offers at our church. I have so much more to learn about Creation and young earth theory.
 The Map That Changed the World
 Ibid. p.12
 Ibid. p.12