THE CREATION VERSUS EVOLUTION CONTROVERSY: PART FOUR                             

       In Part three of this series we discussed various dating methods used to determine the age of rocks and fossils found in the geologic record.  Evolutionists believe these dating methods have established that the earth and its life forms go back millions of years.  Some creationists find these dating methods very problematical and believe that the geologic record can be best explained on the basis of a flood having covered the entire earth.  Such a flood is indicated in the Biblical record and other ancient literature.

     The Genesis Flood:

       The book of Genesis documents a flood that occurred during the time of Noah. According to the dating conclusions of seventeenth century Archbishop James Ussher of Ireland, which are based on the genealogical records found in Genesis, the flood occurred around 2,348 B.C.  The story of a great deluge has also been found on cuneiform tablets collected from archaeological sites in Babylonia, Assyria, and lands surrounding Mesopotamia.

       There are over 200 flood stories that have been identified in various parts of the world. While these stories differ considerably in detail, many of them have the common thread of an angry deity bringing about the flood and there being a favored family who along with a number of animals survive the flood in a boat directed to be built be a deity. These stories also commonly mention a bird or birds being used to determine when it was safe to depart the boat. These are all aspects of the flood recorded in Genesis.  

       In view of these numerous stories of a catastrophic flood, it is reasonable to conclude that such a flood or floods did indeed occur. It has been argued by some that these stories relate to separately occurring floods throughout ancient history. However, the fact that these stories have pronounced similarities to the Genesis flood account, it would appear reasonable to believe it is the Noachian flood that is in view.

       Therefore, the occurrence of the Noachian flood appears evident. The question that must be answered is what kind of flood was this and what effect did it have on the topography of the earth?  Was this a local flood affecting only a portion of the earth? Was this a worldwide flood?  If so, was it responsible for most of the fossils and the formation of sedimentary rock found over much of the face of the Earth? 

       Most creationists believe the flood covered the entire earth.  Some flood geologists postulate that at one time a canopy of water covered the earth and it was the release of this water along with the release of subterranean water below the earth’s crust that caused the flood to occur.  It is believed this catastrophic event created major geologic change in both the land surface of the earth and the ocean depths. 

       This resulted in continents being formed and mountain ranges and canyons being created both on the land surface of the earth and in the oceans.  It is believed that all living organisms and plants on the land part of the earth died. Many became encased in flood sediments, thus creating the fossil record we see today. This included many marine life forms that could not withstand the force of the flood and therefore died.  

       As discussed in part two of this series, some creationists embrace the hydroplate theory which teaches that about half the water in the oceans today was once contained in interconnected chambers about ten miles below the earth's surface under great pressure.  It is believed the pressure of this water created a fissure that spread around the earth and this water burst into the atmosphere and came down as torrential rain.  Those who hold to this approach do not believe in the canopy theory but maintain that the flood was entirely caused by this subterranean burst.  The existence of this pressurized subterranean water is theoretical with no empirical evidence for it having ever existed.  While conclusions about formation of the geological record based on this theory have plausibility, such conclusions are all based on the assumption that this subterranean water once existed.  As indicated in part two of this series, you may read about this theory at www.creationscience.com

     Was it a local flood?

       Some creationists do not believe the Noachian flood was worldwide but maintain the flood was an event limited to the known world at the time and it is believed the known world at that time was the land of Mesopotamia.  This conclusion is based on several observations.  It is believed far more species of animal life are represented in the fossil record than could possibly have been preserved in Noah’s ark.  Secondly, the Hebrew word translated earth is often found in Scripture to refer to a restricted area as opposed to the entire earth.   Pivotal Scriptures in regard to the flood account are the following.   

        Genesis 6:6-7:  The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the LORD said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth--men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air--for I am grieved that I have made them."

       Genesis 6:17:  I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish.

        Genesis 7:21:  Every living thing that moved on the earth perished--birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; men and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds of the air were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left and those with him in the ark.

       The Hebrew word translated into the English “earth” throughout the flood account is erets. This word is used multiple hundreds of times in the Old Testament Scriptures and is variously translated as earth, land, country or ground.  Since erets can mean earth, land, country or ground, context must determine its meaning in any one particular passage.  In many passages of Scripture where this word is used, the context clearly shows it to mean a specific area of land, a particular country and in a few cases the ground on which one is standing.  How is erets to be understood within the context of the flood account?

        The flood occurred some 2000 years after creation.  It is argued that in 2000 plus years it would be reasonable to conclude that man and other life forms had moved far beyond the Mesopotamian area.  If God was grieved that He made man and intended to do away with man and all living organisms, this would appear to apply to man and other living organisms anywhere and everywhere on planet earth and not only the land of Mesopotamian. 

       It is argued that if only the land of Mesopotamia was flooded, you would think that birds on the fringe of the flood could have flown to adjacent land and survived. Also, animals and even man living on the edge of the flood waters would have had opportunity to escape.  Yet Scripture records that “Every living thing that moved on the earth perished--birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind.”

       For those who believe the flood was worldwide, it is believed the context of the flood account clearly supports this position. God is seen as being very displeased with His creation of man and consequently desires to destroy all humans and all living organisms. It is written that God “was grieved that he had made man on the earth.”  This Scripture speaks of God making man.  It is argued that God did not only make the humans living in the area of Mesopotamia.

       The Scripture says God was grieved that He made man on the earth. This statement implies all humans on earth and not just some humans living on the land in a certain area of the earth.  This being the case, God would not have given opportunity for any organisms to escape to un-flooded areas of the world.  God would not have allowed men living in un-flooded parts of the world to continue living. It would therefore appear that erets in the flood account is referring to the whole earth and it was the whole earth that was flooded.      

       Apostle Peter indicates the flood was worldwide when he says: "If he did not spare the ancient world (Greek: κόσμου (kosmou) when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others" (2 Peter 2:5). 

       The Greek word rendered “world” in this passage is kosmou which is a tense of the Greek kosmos which appears 186 times in the Greek Scriptures. Kosmou is used 72 times by NT writers and by context can be seen to over and over again refer to the whole world and not just a portion of it. In 2 Peter 3:5-6, Peter speaks of the world (Kosmos) being deluged and destroyed. 

       2 Peter 3:5-6: But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water.  By these waters also the world κόσμος (kosmos) of that time was deluged and destroyed.

       There are additional reasons why the local flood idea appears problematical.  If the flood was only local, why build an ark at all?  Why would God not simply have Noah and his family move to some other part of the world to escape the wickedness around them and then destroy the wicked people living in Mesopotamia? It is argued that because God didn't do it this way it shows that the wickedness of man was worldwide and there was nowhere to escape this wickedness.

       Some, who believe it was only a local flood, argue that that the reason God had Noah build the ark rather than escape to some other part of the world was to give the people in the region of Mesopotamia time to repent and avoid the flood judgment. Building of the ark is seen as God warning the people before bringing judgment against them. God warning people before bringing judgement is seen throughout Scripture. It is argued that people living in other parts of the world would be drowned without having been given proper warning of the coming flood.

       However, there is Scriptural indication that it may have taken between 50 and 80 years to build the ark. This would have allowed sufficient time for word about the ark and why it was being built to spread to other parts of the world.  Genesis 5:32 shows that after Noah was 500 years old he had his three sons. The flood occurred when he was 600 years old (Genesis 7:6). It would have been during this 100 year period that the ark was built. A project of this magnitude would have taken considerable time to complete.  

       Another argument against the local flood position is that if the flood was only local, it could be questioned why God would send every kind of air breathing organism to the ark to be preserved if they could just as easily be preserved on some part of the earth not covered by the flood.  This is a reasonable observation.  A related question is why the ark was as big as it was if just local creatures had to be housed.

       The strongest argument in favor of a worldwide flood involves the covenant God made with the creation after the flood. God promised to never again send a flood upon the earth that would destroy all life and the earth. 

       Genesis 9:9-16:  I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you--the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you--every living creature on earth. I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.  And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.

        If “all life and the earth” is to be understood as pertaining to a local flood event, then it would follow that God’s promise was to never destroy all life and the earth through a flood within a local area.  Yet there have been many local floods that have killed thousands of people and created great destruction to the land affected by the flood.  If the Noachian flood was only a local event, God has repeatedly broken His promise. This appears to be a  strong argument against the Noachian flood being a local event.

       The rainbow covenant is instructive in that it may suggest that prior to the flood, there weren’t rain clouds.  If there would have been rain clouds there would have been rainbows as rainbows are created when the sun peeks through the clouds while it is raining.  On the other hand, God may have simply embraced the occurrence of already existing rainbows as the sign of the covenant he was making to never again bring a flood that would destroy all life and the earth.

       More significant than the rainbow sign of the covenant is the all inclusive wording of the covenant.  "Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.As already pointed out, there have been many local floods that have killed thousands of people and created great destruction in local areas but there has never again been a flood that destroyed all life or devastated the entire earth.  The wording of this covenant strongly indicates the flood was worldwide, a type of flood God promised would never again occur.

       There are additional observations that indicate the flood was worldwide. It is questioned how waters could raise above the highest mountains and not cover the earth.  Even if mountains were much lower at the time of the flood as some believe, because water always seeks its lowest level, it could not have risen to cover local mountains while leaving the rest of the world untouched.  It’s also been pointed out that Mesopotamia is shaped like a half bowl open to the South.  It is argued that a flood in this area would have had its waters drain into the Indian Ocean and therefore it would not have taken a year for the flood waters to subside as indicated in the Genesis account.  

       The waters are said to have risen 15 cubits (over 20 feet) above the mountains.  The ark is said to have landed in the mountains of Ararat.  Mt. Ararat has twin peaks known as the Great Peak and the Little Peak. The height of the Great Peak is 16,916 feet, and the height of the Little Peak is 12,840 feet.   Even if this was a local flood, the water would have risen above 17,000 feet if it can be assumed that these mountains were at that height before the flood.  Following the principle of water always seeking its lowest level, it would have leveled at a height of over 17,000 feet which would have spread far beyond the land of Mesopotamia.     

       All things considered, it appears reasonable to conclude the Noachian flood was worldwide in nature.

The Noachian flood and the fossil record:

      Young earth creationists attribute much of the fossil record to the Noachian flood which is seen as responsible for the disposition of the millions of fossils found in sedimentary rock around the world.  The fossil record contains thousands of species of organisms.  Therefore, these species would have been living at the time of the flood.  Thousands of different species would have been required to enter the ark if God intended to preserve them all.  The Scriptural account indicates God required Noah to take into the ark representatives of all living creatures along with the food required to keep them alive.  

       Genesis 6:19-21: You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.

       The ark is believed to have been 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. This would make the length of the ark the size of a football field and a half.  Noah was told to not only take a pair of each living organism into the ark, but seven pairs of clean animals.

       Many have questioned how the ark could have been large enough to contain all these organisms along with their food and other necessities. While God could have created some special conditions to accommodate this situation, there is nothing in Scripture telling us this.  The ark story would simply have us believe that everything from African elephants and giraffes to Australian kangaroos and Chinese panda bears to flies and mosquitoes were preserved in the ark for 371 days.

        There does appear to have been some Divine intervention as to the drawing of creatures into the ark as it is recorded that the animals came to Noah suggesting that he did not have to go about finding them.

        Genesis 7:8-9: Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah.  

       What about dinosaurs?  The same fossil record attributed by young earth creationists to the Noachian flood contains the fossil remains of dinosaurs.  If the fossil record is indeed the result of the Noachian flood, then dinosaurs would have been alive at the time of the flood.  Since Noah was instructed to take of every kind of creature into the ark, dinosaurs would have been included and would have taken up considerable space.        

       It is questioned as to how eight people could have cared for these multiple thousands of organisms.  Some young earth creationists have done actual manpower studies to show that it is indeed possible to fed, remove daily wastes and do other necessary duties on a daily basis for such a large contingent of organisms.  

       Young earth creationists argue that based on the length, width and height of the ark, it would have had 1.54 million cubic feet.  This is said to be the equivalent volume of 522 standard American railroad boxcars each of which can hold 240 sheep.  It is estimated that there were around 8000 land species at the time of the flood. Water species did not enter the ark. Bringing a male and female of each land species would be 16,000 organisms plus the additional clean animals.   It is believed there was more than enough space to house these many thousands of species of organisms and their necessities. This space would have included room for dinosaurs, especially if they were young animals.  

       When one considers the dynamics involved in the housing of thousands of organisms along with their food and environmental requirements for over a year in a vessel being tossed about by raging flood waters, it would appear problematical that thousands of organisms could survive such an ordeal. Young earth creationists offer a solution.

       Young earth creationists argue that what Noah took into the ark were the "kinds" spoken of in the Genesis creation account. The Genesis creation account speaks of God creating living organisms according to their kinds.  The indication is that basic types of organisms were created from which a tremendous number of varieties have evolved.

       Creationists, including young earth creationists, don’t deny microevolution which is the evolution of varieties within the Genesis kinds.  What is often denied by creationists is macroevolution which is the evolving of one kind into another kind.   If Noah took only "kinds" into the ark, this would have constituted a much smaller group of organisms.  Once released from the ark, these "kinds" would have produced an ongoing number of varieties of organisms within their "kind."  The issue of "kinds" and the whole matter of micro and macro evolution will be addressed as we proceed with this series.

     Let's do a review:

       Young earth creationists believe the strata and their fossils are the result of a world wide flood at the time of Noah. Old earth creationists believe various catastrophic events over millions of years have created the geologic record and do not believe the Noachian flood is solely responsible for the sedimentary strata and their fossils. Old earth creationists and atheistic evolutionists believe the world wide distribution of millions of fossils in sedimentary rock strata result from multiple thousands of species that have gradually evolved over millions of years of incremental uniformitarian development.  

      When examining the geologic record and how fossils and sedimentary rock are made, the evidence indicates that it is flood waters that have created the sedimentary rock strata and the disposition of fossils found in such rock. The belief by young earth creationists that the great assortment of fossil disposition results only from the Noachian flood appears very problematical. 

       Young earth creationists believe the creation as described in Genesis 1 occurred between 6 and 10 thousand years ago and was indeed the beginning of the earth and all biological life forms.  If the Noachian flood was around 2000 BC as believed, the variety of life forms that make up the fossil record would have all had to develop from 2 to 6 thousand years before the flood.  All evidence to date indicates a much longer period of development of biological organisms which would mean the Noachian flood, while certainly producing disposition of fossil material, would not have been the sole cause of the disposition of fossils found in sedimentary rock.  

       As covered in part two of this series, some creationists believe there was a pre-Adamic creation which met with destruction before the Adamic creation.  This pre-Adamic creation is believed to have contained the many species of organisms found in the fossil record.  Since the Genesis creation account speaks of water covering the earth, it is believed there may have been a pre-Adamic worldwide flood that resulted in much of the geologic and fossil record we see today. As discussed in essay two of this series, this view is based on the “gap theory” and assumes some kind of battle took place between the forces of good and evil which caused the earth to become lifeless and overrun with water.  Those who believe in this approach believe the Noachian flood was worldwide but not of a magnitude that would have caused the geologic record as we see it. 

       Origen, one of the early church leaders, who lived from 186 to about 254 AD, said this about Genesis 1:1, “It is certain that the present firmament is not spoken of in this verse, nor the present dry land, but rather that heaven and earth from which this present heaven and earth that we now see afterwards borrowed their names."  Origen apparently believed that the heaven and earth spoken of in Genesis 1:1 was different from the heaven and earth extant during his time.

       A number of other writers, including some Hebrew scholars, have viewed Genesis 1:1 to be a creation that took place prior to the six day creation recorded in Genesis 1:3 and forward.      

        Genesis 1:1 records that "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." Genesis 1:2 shows the earth created but disordered.  Verse 3 shows the earth already existing when God separates the light from darkness and the land from the water on the first and second days of creation week.  Verse one says the heavens and earth were created in the beginning.  Yet the sun, moon and stars are seen as being created on the fourth day. This suggests the sun, moon and stars were created after the heavens and earth.  Since the sun, moon and stars are part of the heavens and if the heavens were already created, wouldn't the sun, moon and stars already exist?  Some believe this all indicates a former creation of the heavens and earth which preceded a six day re-establishment of what had been destroyed.   

       Others believe verse two simply indicates an about to be developed and ordered world and therefore Genesis 1:1-3 all pertains to the first day of creation. Verse one is simply seen as an introductory statement to the six day creation account. This does not, however, answer why the sun, moon and stars are seen as being created on the fourth day after the earth is created, light is separated from darkness, water is separated from land and plant life is established. It may be more reasonable to believe the sun, moon and stars were already created and God was simply making them to appear from the view point of the earth on the fourth day.  

       In view of these observations regarding Genesis 1:1-3, this author feels the “gap theory", or some variation thereof, may have validity. We will discuss variations of this concept later in this series.   As mentioned in part two of this series, a good resource for further examination of the traditional "gap theory" can be found at www.custance.org. Click “The Books” and scroll down to “Without Form and Void”

       It is interesting that some recent translations of Genesis 1:1-3 indicate that creation was a process and thus allow for such creation to have occurred over a long period of time.  The 1985 Jewish Publication Society (JPS) translation renders Genesis 1:1-3 this way:  "When God began to create heaven and earth—the earth being unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind from God sweeping over the water—God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light."       

       While there are areas on the earth where it appears strata has been laid down gradually over a number of years, the vast majority of strata appears to have been laid down abruptly in a short period of time.  As previously pointed out, the presence of fossils in the strata is random.  They do not follow any lower to higher progression of complexity which evolution requires.  Fossils appear to have been quite suddenly deposited in the strata. We discussed in part three of this series how experiments have demonstrated how quickly sedimentary rock can be deposited due to the flow of water.  This presents a challenge to the evolutionary position that it has taken millions of years for sedimentary strata to be deposited.  

       The fact that fossils of animals and plants normally found in warm climates are found in strata in the Arctic Circle and Antarctica indicates that at one time the climate of the earth was quite different from what it is today.  This suggests that some catastrophic event or events in earth’s history has altered the earth’s atmosphere.  As previously covered, some young earth creationists believe a water vapor canopy once covered the earth resulting in a greenhouse effect that made the earth much warmer.  It is believed the Noachian flood destroyed this canopy which led to the climate zones we see today.  This idea, however, has met with criticism from both evolutionists and creationists as discussed in part two of this series.

       Yet the evidence shows the earth once had a different climatic arrangement.  Something happened in earth’s history to change our climate.  We briefly discussed the hydroplate theory which solely attributes the Noachian flood to the release of subterranean waters.  The research behind this theory is rather extensive and offers interesting possibilities.  The hydroplate theory could also be applied to a pre-Adamic flood and therefore used to support the “gap theory.”

       At this point in our discussion of the creation/evolution controversy, it would appear evolutionary theory regarding the origin of the universe and life is on shaky ground. Evolutionists and Progressive Creationists offer no irrefutable evidence for the Big Bang taking place.  The Big Bang is not proven beyond reasonable doubt. Every postulation as to how the Big Bang may have occurred is met with reasonable alternative explanations.

       It is instructive that a number of scientists have come to question the validity of the Big Bang Theory. In 2004, plasma physicist Eric Lerner published an article in the publication "New Scientist" entitled "Bucking the Big Bang."  In this article Mr. Lerner points out how the Big Bang Theory is based on unproven hypothetical entities such as dark matter and dark energy.  In 2005, astrophysicist Hilton Radcliffe wrote: "That the Big Bang theory will pass into history as an artifact of man's obsession with dogma is a certainty; it will do so on its own merits, however, because it stands on feet of clay." Recently, professor of astronomy at Princeton University James Gunn wrote, "Cosmology may look like science, but it isn't science. A basic tenet of science is that you can do repeatable experiments, and you can't do that with cosmology." 

       As to the dating methods used to arrive at the age of fossils and rocks, these methods have been shown to be suspect. However, such methods can be quite complicated and we need to be very careful in evaluating these methods and arriving at conclusions as to the validity or non-validity of the results they purport to show. 

       Overall, the evidence appears very strong for the geologic record being the result of a catastrophic flood or floods rather than a slow uniform disposition of sedimentary strata over millions of years as evolutionists teach.  Whether such flood was solely the Noachian deluge, solely a pre-Adamic flood, or recurring floods over an unknown period of time remains to be determined.

       One thing that is very problematical for evolutionists is that there are no indisputable transitional life forms in the fossil record. By transitional forms, are meant intermediate forms of life appearing in the fossil record that are "in-between" existing types of organisms found today or in the past.  If slow, gradual evolution occurred, you would expect to observe a continuum of change in the fossil record. If life took millions of years to arrive at its present state of development, the earth should be filled with fossil forms showing minor changes as species were evolving.

       Instead, when fossils are examined, they are found to be fully developed organisms.  The fossil record shows a rather sudden entrapment of millions of fully developed organisms due to some catastrophic event that appears to be related to the action of a flood.  The fossil record provides no evidence of gradual (intermediate stage) transition of one species into another.

        Evolutionists argue there are millions of intermediate forms of life that illustrate an evolutionary transition.  All organisms are seen as being in transition.  Therefore, a transitional form is a selected form that represents a particular evolutionary intermediate stage in the development of living organisms in general. Contemporary transitional forms are called "living fossils."  However, to arbitrarily select organisms and claim they are transitional stages in an overall progression of evolutionary development is to assume the thing to be proved.  This appears to be a real stretch.

        In our next installment of this series, we will begin to examine in much greater detail the evolutionist and creationist perspective on how life forms have developed on planet earth.