The Genesis Flood
Author: Ian Taylor
1. Was the Genesis Flood global in extent or just local? Genesis chapters six to eight give a detailed account of a devastating flood brought about by God as a judgment upon Man. Genesis 7:18-24 leaves no doubt that this Flood was global: all the highest hills were covered, all the creatures on the dry land died and only Noah and his family and representatives of all animal life survived the ordeal. Upon leaving the Ark, 376 days later, God gave Noah a covenant promise to never again destroy the earth by a flood (Gen. 9:11). Since God does not break His covenant promises and there have been many local floods throughout human history, then reasonably the Flood was not local but global. Moreover, according to Genesis, the Flood took place in historic time, not in a previous geological age, thus the few thousand years available since that time would not permit any kind of evolution to have taken place. Alternatively, if the Flood was local Noah was not only a fool to have built the huge vessel, since both he and the animals could more easily have moved out of the area. Further, Jesus and Peter were equally as foolish to have believed the tale! The account of a flood of long ago in which one man, his family and many animals were saved in a large vessel is found in the folklore of 138 cultures from around the world; these accounts pre-existed missionary visits. Following the discovery of North America in the sixteenth century, racial prejudice caused some to doubt that the Genesis Flood had been global. Many European Christians were convinced that Adam and Noah were white (actually, dark brown) and, when they learned of the Red Indian and the Black African, they argued these people were not the descendants of Adam but rather must have been pre-Adamites or co-Adamites. Either way, for them to have survived the Flood without being on the ark, demanded that the Flood had been local. The Church fought back on this issue and charged with heresy those who taught that the Flood was local.
2. Nicolas Steno (1638-1686), Renaisance father of geology and a Christian, knew that sea shells on mountain tops were evidence of the Genesis Flood. He studied the mechanics of sediment deposition from moving water and in 1667 published a paper declaring deposition had been simultaneous; later that year He converted to the Roman Catholic faith and, without referring to the first paper, issued another paper in 1669 declaring deposition had been sequential. The second paper introduced time – any number of years — between each deposited layer and was translated from Latin into English within three years; the first paper, also in Latin, was not translated into English until 1958!
3. Following the French Revolution of 1789, Georges Cuvier (1769-1832), became the most influential scientist in France. Cuvier was a Lutheran and familiar with the Genesis account but had a problem with the Genesis Flood being global because that meant the account of Noah and his Ark was necessarily true. Most naturalists of the time believed that in the distant past there had been a flood that had covered perhaps most of the earth. The fossil remains of sea shells in the rocks on mountain tops were an uncomfortable reminder of this. In Paris, the Revolutionaries celebrated their Revolution by rebuilding the city and, as road cuttings were made, Cuvier noted there were over twenty different kinds of sedimentary rock (today said to be 21 kinds). He correctly recognized that these strata had originally been sediment in water, were thus sedimentary rocks and contained the fossil remains of once-living sea creatures. However, Cuvier found it difficult to believe that one flood could have produced all the different layers. In his Discours sur les revolutions de la surface du globe (1795) he suggested that the Genesis Flood occurred about 5000 years ago and this was the last of four world-wide floods caused by rising sea levels. On each occasion a few high points of land had permitted flora and fauna to survive thus making Noah unnecessary. The floods had on each occasion trapped within their sediments representatives of the creatures living at that particular time thus the fossils were perceived to be a record of the changes of life throughout earth’s history. However, it quickly became evident not only among the French but also among the English naturalists that fossils of fish and mammals etc were generally mixed up and did not show the progression of life as expected.
4. Charles Lyell (1797-1875), was born in Scotland, studied the law and became secretary to the newly formed London Geological Society. Lyell was a Christian but had difficulties with the miraculous especially Noah and his Ark. At first, he liked Cuvier’s ideas of a series of rising sea levels, however, he soon realized that rising sea levels could eventully flood the entire Earth making Noah indispensible. In 1829 Lyell took the gentleman’s educational tour of Europe and visited the Roman Temple of Serapis at Pozzuoli (given as Puteoli in Acts 28:13) in the Bay of Naples. Here he saw three remaining marble columns while about half-way up each column was a series of holes recognized to have been made by lithodomi, a small crustacean that secrets acid to burrow into the solid stone. This evidence struck Lyell forcefully because it meant that after the Temple had been constructed, it sank below sea level and later rose again. Inquiry showed that this the temple had indeed sunk in the 3rd century AD. and rose again in 1538. He was delighted because here was evidence that the land could sink and elevate locally to provide the same sedimentary evidence thus a global flood was unnecessary. The Temple of Serapis became an icon of truth to Lyell and appeared as the frontispiece to every one of the twelve editions of his book, The Principles of Geology first published in three volumes in 1830-1833. However, objections were raised because Pozzuoli is known to have been the result of volcanic action in this very unstable area. Clearly, a very local happening and not the same thing as entire continental land surfaces rising and falling. In 1836 Lyell eagerly sought the young Charles Darwin who had been a witness to the devastating earthquake of Concepción [Bolivia] in 1835 that raised a huge area of land.
5. In 1828, Charles Lyell met with Italian geologists who told him of their classification of strata into Primary, Secondary and Tertiary rocks These were believed to correspond respectively to rocks that existed from Creation, rocks deposited as sediment during the Genesis Flood and rocks deposited from sediment after the Flood. Of greater importance however, was the fact that they sub-divided these three eras by the proportions of extinct-to-modern marine shells. Lyell was well aware that fossils of reptiles and mammals etc.were seldom found and were never in any particular order whereas marine shells were found in virtually all sedimentary rocks. He immediately went to Paris where he learned of a catalogued collection of over 7,000 sea shells. It was evident that use of marine shells – mollusca, brachiopoda, echinoderma, etc – could be used to better identify and trace stratum. With the help of friends at the London Geological Society, Lyell lifted these European ideas, applied Greek names to the various strata and identified each with the appropriate series of (index) marine shells. This became the foundation for the modern geologist’s Geologic Column; it is quite practical but shows no sign of progression of life. The familiar Geologic Column in school textbooks is a hypothetical construct that might be true if evolution had actually taken place in a world millions of years old and subject to a sequence of local floods.
6. Beginning in the 1830’s a number of attempts were made to find the age of the Earth by measuring the rate of sedimentation in river estuaries, lakes and oceans and dividing this figure into the greatest thicknesses of each stratum known. At first, values of several million years were announced but as the work progressed from the nineteenth to the twentieth century, the estimates became ever greater. The total figure finally adopted over fifty years ago was 4.5 billion years; it seems a new estimate is long overdue! In recent years radiometric methods have replaced the measurement of sediments and seem to give a ring of authenticity to the numbers obtained but little known is the fact that these radiometric methods are first calibrated by using the previously dated rocks and fossils!
7. The foregoing is simply the history of the foundations for modern geology. It is based upon Lyell’s seemingly quite reasonable idea that multiple strata have been laid down one after another [sequentially] by inundations of the land by the sea. Textbooks always speak of “transgressions by the sea” thus not committing to either the sea rising or the land sinking since there is, as yet, no satisfactory mechanism for either! Recently in France, Guy Berthault has shown in observable, repeatable experiments that mixed sediments in flowing water drop out in a very specific order to leave a stratified deposit. This is called progradation, it is one principle used for mineral sorting and is well familiar to mining geologists. A global flood would consist of a continuous film of water on the earth’s surface moving under the gravitational influence of the moon and carrying millions of tons of sediment. According to Genesis, the duration of the Flood was just over one year and in this time the sediments would have dropped out and formed the multiple layers simultaneously in a short period of time rather than sequentially over a long period of time. Gravitational pull by the Moon is known to cause liquifaction to take place in sediments and would bring about even better sorting of the small marine crustaceans used as the index fossil markers. Another mechanism, known as turbidation, has been shown to produce fine layers called varves in minutes, not years. These processes are well known to geologists and take only days or weeks, not millions of years. Recent observations at Bijou Creek in Texas and at Mount St. Helens in the State of Washington have confirmed these mechanisms precisely.
8. Virtually all the geological features of the earth’s surface can be better explained by the one-flood global model involving progradation, liquifaction and turbidation than by modern geology with its millions of years. Two prime pieces of evidence for a global flood with similtaneous deposition of the strata are: A) The Persistence of Facies. Cretaceous chalk is identified by the index fossil micraster and nodules of flint stone. There is no argument that it is a sedimentary rock and has thus been deposited as a sediment in water. This stratum persists as a continuous layer from Northern Ireland, is seen as the White Cliffs of Dover, then continues through Europe, Russia, India, Malaysia and finishes in Australia. It is also found from Pittsburgh to Alaska. This means that this entire area – more than half the globe — was under water at the same time. B) Interbedding. This is the slight overlapping or blending of one stratum with the next. Textbooks are always reluctant to mention this and show examples of strata with nice clean lines of demarkation. However, it is common to find neatly stratified layers occasionally blending meaning that the lower stratum did not rise from the flood waters, dry out and turn to rock before sinking to receive sediments for the second stratum. Quite clearly, these strata were deposited at the same time.
9. Most geologists today acknowledge that the doctrine of uniformitarianism has been wrong, that in fact, catastrophies are the rule and that a flood or floods have caused most of what we see in the geologic record. They also cautiously admit that the geologic column is based upon circular reasoning. To quote Tom Kemp writing in the New Scientist Vol. 108, Dec. 5, 1986, p.67: “A circular argument arises: interpret the fossil record in the terms of a particular theory of evolution, inspect the interpretation, and note that it confirms the theory. Well, it would, wouldn’t it?” Again, professor R. H. Rastal writing in the 14th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, (Vol. 10, p.168) “It cannot be denied that from a strictly philosophical standpoint geologists are here arguing in a circle. The succession of organisms has been determined by a study of their remains embedded in the rocks, and the relative ages of the rocks are determined by the organisms they contain.” In spite of these and many other similar admissions in recent years, the scientific establishment so far refuses to consider any alternative to evolution.
10. Finally, do Creationists have a mechanism for the Genesis Flood? The most recent is Walter Brown’s Hydroplate Theory. He proposes that initially, the Earth consisted of a basalt core and a granite shell ten miles thick supported on the core by granite pillars [1 Samuel 2:8, Job 9:6; Psalm 75:3]; the annular space was filled with hot salty water. Increasing pressure on this water finally caused the shell to expand and crack, water to eject to the stratosphere then return to flood the Earth, cold and filled with sediment from the eroded crack surfaces. The plates upon which the continents rested shifted rapidly pushing up new continental areas while the flood waters returned to the new ocean basins. Guy Berthault has studied simultaneous deposition of mixed sediments in flowing water and has confirmed that this well known process can reproduce the rock strata. Many Christians believe the Genesis Flood was local yet, as has been shown, this merely hides the fact that it is the beginning of the slippery slope to the belief in godless evolution.
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