Last week we concluded our ongoing series regarding the creation/evolution debate by discussing radio carbon dating as a method of determining the age of organisms. This method has been used and continues to be used to determine the age of fossils of once living organisms.  Young earth creationists, who believe the earth and its life forms are no more than six to ten thousand years old, have called into question the validity of radio carbon dating and believe it is based on a number of assumptions about how the earth has functioned since it was created. I gave examples of how radio carbon dating has been show to be off by multiple thousands of years.

       Evolutionists have responded to these claims of young earth creationists by providing what they consider comprehensive data that explains dating irregularities. Evolutionists point out there are over 70 different dating methods being used and in most cases the data produced by these methods are in agreement as to showing the earth and life forms to be millions of years old.  Old earth agers will point to star light as proof of an old earth and universe.    

Star light: 

        Scientists, using a large variety of techniques to determine distance between heavenly bodies, have determined there to be tremendous amounts of space that separate stars one from another.  The techniques used by astronomers and others to measure these distances are generally believed to be reasonably accurate and are accepted by most in both the evolutionist and creationist camps.

       The light we see from stars must travel multiple millions of light-year miles to reach planet earth. Since it has been demonstrated that light travels at a constant 186,000 miles per second throughout the universe, scientists can measure the time it takes for light to reach the earth based on the distance between the earth and stars.  Based on the measured distances of stars, it has been determined that the star light we see, left such stars millions and, in some cases, billions of years ago.  It is argued that if the star light we see left such stars millions or billions of years ago, such stars must be millions and even billions of years old and therefore the universe is billions of years old. 

        Progressive creationists and theistic evolutionists are in agreement with classical evolutionists on this point and believe this to be strong evidence for a very old universe.  Young earth creationists have answered this observation by postulating that when God created the universe, earth and life in six days, He created a mature, fully functioning cosmos where everything was in a fully developed state.  It is pointed out that Adam and Eve were created as full grown adults.  Animals, trees and other plant life were created fully developed.  It is believed trees had tree rings which would have given them the appearance of age but in reality they would have only been a day old, the day after they were created. 

       Young earth creationists believe stars were created at vast distances from the earth but just as all else was created in a mature state, instant light beams were created as well to facilitate useful starlight. So even though stars are many light years away, it is believed God created their light beams to be immediately present and observed. There is, however, a major challenge to this position and it involves what is called a supernova.

The Supernova:

       A star is a huge ball of nuclear energy that is produced by its core. This energy produces a massive amount of outward pressure which is balanced by the pull of gravity acting on the stars huge mass. When a star's nuclear fuel runs out, the gravitational pull from the star's mass causes it to collapse on itself and explode.  This explosion releases a tremendous amount of energy causing such brilliance of light as to outshine an entire galaxy of other stars. This exploding star is called a supernova.  According to the “created light beam” theory, God created light beams in association with the stars he created on the fourth day of creation.  However, there is no reason to believe God created exploding stars on that fourth day of creation since such stars are burned out stars and God had just completed a perfect creation where He pronounced everything as being good.

       Therefore the exploding stars that are seen must have exploded since the six day creation event and their light would be assumed to be traveling at the normal 186,000 miles per second with no specially created light beams created in advance of the time their light would naturally hit earth.  This is where the problem comes in for the young earth creationists.

        In July of A.D. 1054, the Chinese reported the sudden appearance of a bright light in the region of the Crab constellation.  It was so bright that it could for several weeks be seen in broad daylight. This light lasted for about a year and a half during which time it faded and finally disappeared from sight.  Today we see the remains of this event as the Crab Nebula, a cloud of expanding gas and dust, the remains of what was an exploding star, a supernova. At the center of this nebula is the remains of the original star which is now a dense neutron star sending out pulses of radio signals and thus called a pulsar.

        The Crab Nebula is 6,500 light years from earth. A light year is the distance light travels in a year. For creationists who believe in a 6,000 year old universe this presents a serious problem.  Even if this explosion had taken place immediately after creation week of approximately 6,000 years ago, only about 5,000 years would have passed before A.D. 1054.  The remaining 1,500 years needed for the light of this exploding star to travel to earth would take us to around A.D. 2,500.  Yet the Chinese record seeing this supernova in A.D. 1054 and we see its remains to this very day as the Crab Nebula.  This being the case, this star would have exploded 1,500 years before the six day creation which puts its original creation further back yet as it can be assumed that this star was around for a while before it exploded. In order for this event to fit into a 6,000 year ago creation paradigm, God would have had to create light beams from an exploding star that preceded creation week.

        Since some young earth creationists believe the creation could have taken place closer to 10,000 years ago, I will cite a second example to show the difficulties with a 10,000 year perspective.  In 1987, astronomers were able to photograph a supernova in the nearby galaxy called Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) which is visible at night near the South Pole.  This exploding star is 170,000 light years away which means if it occurred shortly after creation week it should not be seen for another 160,000 years.  The original creation of this star would have occurred approximately 160,000 years before a six-day creation that occurred 10,000 years ago. 

        The problem of supernovas appears to present a reasonable challenge to the view that the universe was created six to ten thousand years ago. Young earth creationists do not have a reasonable response to the problem presented by supernovas to a young earth view.  

       Another view held by young earth creationists is that the fossil record of billions of organisms and casts of organisms are not the result of millions of years of gradual uniformitarian evolutionary development but is instead best explained on the basis of a flood having covered the entire earth.  It is believe such flood is the flood that occurred during the time of Noah as recorded in Genesis.

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.  

       Some creationists embrace what is called the hydroplate theory.  This theory 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.  The existence of this pressurized subterranean water is theoretical with no empirical evidence for it having ever existed. 

     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.  

        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 is seen as occurring some 2000 years after the creation event recorded in Genesis chapters 1-3.  Those that believe the flood was worldwide argue 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.”

       It is argued that erets is translated “earth” in this passage because the context of the flood account is God's 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, it is believed that God would not have given opportunity for any organisms to escape to un-flooded areas of the world.  It is argued that God would not have allowed men living in un-flooded parts of the world to continue living. Therefore, it would 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 presented as to why the local flood idea is 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? Because God didn't do it this way appears to 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 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 of Mesopotamia before bringing judgment against them. It is argued that God gives warning before bringing judgement and that people living in other parts of the world would be drowned without having been given proper warning of the coming flood if indeed it was a world wide flood. They would not have had access to information as to Noah’s building of the ark. 

       In rebuttal to this argument, it is pointed out that Scriptural indication is 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.  Noah first attained to the age of 500 years old before he became the father of Shem, Ham and Japheth (Genesis 5:32). It appears that it was after their births that God made it know to Noah that that he would bring the flood upon the earth.  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.  

       It is argued 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 is 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.  It is argued that 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 and for it being a worldwide 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.     

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.

       Both old earth evolutionists and old earth creationists do not believe the fossil record wholly reflects a worldwide flood that occurred around 4000 years ago.  It is believed the fossil record is too enormous to be reflective of organisms that had developed in the approximate 2000 years from the time of the Genesis creation account to the time of the flood. 

       Next time we will look at dating methods used by science to determine the age of the earth.