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 Ussher, 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. Was this a world wide 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. 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 earths 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. 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 on earth and not only the land of Mesopotamian. 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.”
We find erets translated as earth in this passage because the context of the flood account is Gods displeasure with His creation of man and His desire 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. God did not only make the humans living in the area of Mesopotamia. 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 unflooded areas of the world. God would not have allowed men living in unflooded 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 world wide when he says: "If he did not spare the ancient world (Greek Kosmos) when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others, (2 Peter 2:5). In 2 Peter 3:5-6, this Apostle speaks of the world (Kosmos) being deluged and destroyed.
There are additional reasons why the local flood idea is problematical. If the flood was only local, why build an ark at all? Why not simply move to some other part of the world, away from the wicked people living in Mesopotamia? The argument against this idea is that God wanted to give the people in the region of Mesopotamia time to repent while the ark was being built as a witness against them. This is a reasonable response.
It is 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.
It is pointed out that God promised to never again send a flood upon the earth that would destroy all life and the earth. Yet there have been many local floods that have killed thousands of people and created great destruction in local areas. It is argued that if the Noachian flood was only a local event, God has repeatedly broken His promise. This is a strong argument against the Noachian flood being a local event.
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.
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.
Some have seriously questioned how the ark could house representatives of all species of organisms living at the time. The fossil record attributed to the Noachian flood 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 appears to indicate 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 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.
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 could appear problematical that this was a world wide event. Yet the scriptures indicate God intended to wipe out all of mankind and other air breathing organisms which would make this a world wide event.
It is questioned as to how eight people could have cared for these multiple thousands of organisms. Some 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.
As discussed earlier in this series, evolutionists believe the world wide distribution of millions of fossils in sedimentary rock strata representing multiple thousands of species has been laid down gradually over millions of years and reflect the gradual evolutionary development of living organisms. 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.
When reviewing the geologic record, the evidence appears on the side of flood waters creating the strata and distributing the fossils found in the strata. Whether this was the Noachian flood appears somewhat problematical because of questions regarding the preservation of so many organisms in the space that would have been available on the ark. There does, however, appear to be reasonable arguments to support the Genesis account of the flood as being world wide in nature. I feel the strongest argument offered is that God is shown as making a covenant with the creation to never again destroy all life on earth. This would have been a rather hollow covenant if indeed the Noachian flood was only local and some life had escaped. Even if all life on earth was contained in the Mesopotamian area and only this area was flooded with all life being killed, it would still not explain how the flood waters could be contained to just that area and not have spread to the whole world.
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.
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 world wide 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 world wide as well 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 A.D., 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." 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 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 earth was created first and then the sun, moon and stars. Such conclusion, however, appears inconsistent with verse one which indicates the heavens were created first and then the earth. Some believe this all indicates a former creation of the world which preceded the six day re-creation beginning with verse three.
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 in the final essay of 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”
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. Although the dating methods of evolutionists have been shown to be suspect, such methods can be quite complicated and we need to be very careful in our denial or acceptance of such methods.
Overall, the evidence appears very strong for the geologic record being the result of a catastrophic flood 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 some combination of both, 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, is 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."
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.