Discovering Religion: Episode 4 – The Flood
In the previous episode we discovered creationists believe the purpose of Christ is rooted in original sin; therefore, no animals could have died before the Fall and humans predate the earliest fossils. However, these views do not excuse the natural evidence scattered throughout the planet. Carbon atoms that compose the cells of plant and animals are recycled after these organisms die, incurring numerous and varying fates.
For example, 300 million years ago most of the Earth was covered by lush forests. As plant matter died it was compressed into peat, and over many years of continuous burial the peat was exposed to increased pressure and temperature until transformed into substances like coal and even petroleum — a complex mixture of hydrogen atoms bound to a carbon skeleton.
Carbon atoms can also arrange themselves into numerous allotropes, from the graphite we use in pencils to one of the hardest substances known to man, diamond. Diamonds naturally grow over millions and billions of years under extremes of pressure and temperature found only deep within the Earth’s mantle.
Therefore, not only does diamond formation need a much longer timeframe than the 6,000 years offered by creationists, before the process can even get started plate tectonic movement would have to bring the organic material from the surface to a depth of 100 miles below the Earth’s crust; a process itself requiring millions of years.
If the earth is recently formed, the easiest explanation for all of this evidence might be that God simply placed all the oil and diamonds within the newly created Earth. And since God can do anything, perhaps the planet did not begin as a molten ball of rock, metals, and minerals, but instead created with mountain ranges and other geologic structures already preformed by the seventh day of Creation, giving the Earth only the appearance of age.
But that would be like saying all the ancient-looking fossils we find scattered throughout the Earth were placed there during the Creation as well. So then, did the dinosaurs really existed? Maybe God gave us these bones to reconstruct for our amusement, just like he gave us oil to someday run our cars, coal to generate electricity, and diamonds for something pretty to give each other.
Although this version of reality is not shared among the majority of creationists, many similar arguments have been used to rationalize the natural evidence with a young-Earth view. Almost everyone understands at one time dinosaurs did exist, but according to creationists their sudden disappearance and the formation of such natural wonders as the Grand Canyon are able to be explained by the same solitary event, the Flood.
<span style=”text-decoration: underline;”>Life Before the Flood:</span>
Genesis 1:29 states God initially created all animals to be herbivores. This suggests lions, sharks, and even the one of largest carnivorous animal, the Tyrannosaurus rex, were all once plant eaters. God finally allows the eating of meat after Noah sets the animals free from the ark in Genesis 9:3 when God states, “Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.”
Keep in mind, there was 1,556 years from Adam to Noah, during which time all animals that today we classify as carnivores would have only eaten plants. But could this really be true? Every characteristic of carnivores, from their razor sharp claws, to their flesh sheering teeth and powerful bone-crushing jaws, are instrumental in their ability to obtain and consume flesh. On the other hand, herbivores such as the horse have flat grinding teeth used for pulverizing plant material.
Carnivores lack the proper enzymes and bacteria in their gastrointestinal system to digest cellulose. Even humans lack these enzymes, which is the reason if you have not thoroughly chewed certain vegetables, like corn, you might discover them the next day after you have gone to the bathroom. However, animals like the cow have several stomachs used for breaking down and digesting fibrous material.
Herbivores have a longer gastrointestinal tract to keep food inside them for as long as possible, in order for specialized intestinal bacteria to have enough time to breakdown cellulose. There are even certain animals with specialized organs, for example, the gizzard found in birds, reptiles, fish, annelids, and certain insects.
As we can see, there are several major anatomical and physiological differences between herbivores and carnivores. If God initially created the T. Rex to eat vegetation it would make sense for God to have given this animal the same anatomical and physiological tools as the other herbivores to best obtain and digest its alleged natural diet.
However, animals that transitioned from plant-eaters into meat-eaters did not convert their flat grinding teeth to sharp cutting teeth or reduce their multiple stomachs into just a single stomach over the course of a thousand years, as the Bible seems to suggest. In fact, if adaptations on such a scale were really to take place it would require millions of years, a timeframe incongruent with the young-Earth view.
<span style=”text-decoration: underline;”>Dinosaur-Human Coexistence:</span>
By the creation of both “all the creatures that move along the ground” and “man” on the sixth day, Genesis 1:24-26 suggests humans and dinosaurs coexisted. However, what would account for only their extinction and not ours? The Bible suggests the worldwide Flood during the age of Noah is responsible. If this is true, we would expect to find not only every dinosaur fossil, but all fossils on the same sedimentary layer of rock across the entire World.
Such a catastrophe should leave some proof of its destruction, but we see no evidence of death on such a massive scale. In fact, fossils are arranged in order of epochs of time, ascending in complexity and evenly distributed throughout the geological record. But aside from supporting million of animals within the small, wooden ark, there is still the question of how the animals survived after the Flood water receded.
If water lasted 150 days upon the Earth, as we are told in Genesis 7, we would expect the world to have greatly changed once the Flood was over. Much of the plant life would have died off, leaving little for the herbivores to eat. Furthermore, the only dining options for the carnivorous animals would be their fellow castaways.
Assuming the story of the Flood is true, it is easy to understand the reason the dinosaurs became extinct might have been due to climate change, diminished food supply, or other environmental factors. But, what about the [reptiles] that lived in the water?
Apparently, since fish and other aquatic mammals and reptiles can swim there was no need to rescue them from the Flood. Therefore, shouldn’t we still see the oceans teaming with [giant reptiles] and other prehistoric animals, even though the dinosaurs on the land became extinct?
Understandably the Flood would have wiped out the food supply or change the environment on the surface; but nothing would have changed in the oceans where an abundant supply of algae, plants, fish and other animals still remained for the aquatic [reptiles] to eat.
The aquatic reptiles known to inhabit the oceans ranged in size and shape, comparable to many varieties of the aquatic mammals that still inhabit the waters. Such as sea lions, walruses, dolphins, orcas, and whales. In fact, the largest aquatic mammal, the whale, is much bigger than the largest [prehistoric] aquatic [reptile]. Therefore, whatever environmental influences the Flood had on the gigantic dinosaurs of the surface could not have had the same impact on the animals in the water.
There is no way to explain the selective extinction of the aquatic [reptiles] and the survival of other aquatic ocean mammals that allegedly shared the waters. In fact, the only way to explain this discrepancy is through what the science of evolution tells us, that the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago gave mammals the opportunity to gain dominance over the earth and oceans.
Please continue to part 2 of this episode, where we will conclude our discussion on Pangaea, plate tectonics, and the Flood, as well as examine the most poignant evidence that shows, without question, the Earth and the Universe are indeed billions of years old.
Pangaea and Plate Tectonics:
In addition to the great wealth of fossil evidence used to explain the Earth’s turbulent history, geological evidence provides a similar account. The study of geology has revealed the Earth once contained several variations of a giant super-continent, the most famous of them being Pangaea. Over billions of years of slow-moving, plate tectonic and violent volcanic activity, this landmass shifted, changed, and broke apart, resulting in the continents as they look today. Similar to the debate on a dinosaur-human coexistence, it is difficult to place the theory of continental drift into a Biblical context.
An important discrepancy is what can be said for the timeline of continental drift and the distribution of animal life in relation to the Flood. After the Flood waters receded, the animals distributed themselves around the globe from a single point within Mesopotamia, where Noah’s ark came to rest on top of Mount Ararat. If the Earth appeared at the time of Noah as it does today, there is no way to account for how specific animals allocated themselves to isolated continents or islands.
For example, how did all fourteen species of marsupials choose to migrate together from Mesopotamia to the Australian continent, which to this day remains the only original habitat on the Earth these animals can be naturally found. Another important discrepancy arises if we assume Earth appeared in Noah’s time as it does today. Genesis 7 tells us every mountain on the Earth was totally covered by water, “They rose greatly on the Earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than twenty feet.”
However, the highest peak on Earth is Mount Everest, at 29,035 feet above sea level. If we consider the Earth to have been created in its present form, it would be impossible for water to have surrounded the entire planet at a depth of five miles above sea level. At the peak of Mount Everest the air is so thin climbers must use the aid of oxygen.
How could Noah and all the animals on the Ark survive such a thin atmosphere? Most importantly, the climate at this extreme height would have not only frozen the surface of the oceans, but Noah and every animal as well. If there was a global Flood, at the very least Mount Everest would have been exposed, which contradicts the Bible. On the other hand, Genesis chapter 1 verse 9 may suggest there was only one landmass in the beginning, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place and let the dry land appear.”
If Pangaea broke up after the Flood it could account for the proper distribution of animal species as well as require a much lower level of water to cover the Earth, since the Himalayas were produced from the collision of India with the Asian Continent. However, large discrepancies arise if we are to believe Pangaea broke up after the Flood.
From our investigation of the Biblical genealogies in Episode 2, the “After Creation Timeline” places the Flood in 2237 BC; this date, along with many other factors, demonstrate overwhelming evidence to disprove the occurrence of a global flood event. There were many great Mesopotamian societies established well before the Flood.
The known ages the Akkadian, Minoan, Egyptian, and Sumerian Empires spanned is proof enough the Flood did not occur, for these societies would have been abruptly destroyed in or around the year 2237 BC. In addition, if there really was a world-wide flood, as Genesis claims, China’s 5,000 year history would not have gone uninterrupted.
With the great deal of astronomical, environmental, and socioeconomic record keeping by the Egyptians and other ancient cultures, there would have been documentation of the rapid plate tectonic shifting needed to occur in the minimal amount of time offered by the Bible. We observe great destruction to civilization when tectonic plates move against each other, either causing earthquakes when the plates shift on land or tsunamis when they shift in the oceans.
However, we still find ancient monuments, like the Pyramids, that have remained unscathed from any such massive natural disaster. Nor do we find written record of continuous earthquakes and tsunamis from any ancient civilization, which suggests the Earth at the time of these civilizations must have looked as it does today. But even more striking is the mention of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers by name as far back as the second chapter in the book of Genesis. Therefore, the authors of Genesis assumed the Earth was created in its present form and allows no leeway for the existence of Pangaea or the mechanisms of plate tectonics to have occurred.
Although the scenario of Pangaea breaking up after the Flood accounts for animal distribution and a lower level of water required to cover the Earth, it would be utterly impossible for the process of continental drift to have commenced during the time of Noah. The study of geology has revealed tectonic plates move very slowly, about 2-18 centimeters per year. At this rate, it would take 100 million years to form an ocean basin or mountain range.
Finally, the most convincing evidence the Earth and the Universe are older than 6,000 years is the fact that we may observe starlight with the powerful telescopes, like Hubble, that has been emitted from galaxies many billions of light years away.
A light-year is defined as the distance light travels in a vacuum in one Julian year. The speed of light is 300 million meters per second. Or 671 million miles per hour, which would be 5.87 trillion miles in one year. Astronomers use this value to calculate distances in space. For instance, our next closest star is 25.8 trillion miles away, or 4.37 light-years.
The next closest spiral galaxy is Andromeda, 2 million light-years away. And most distant object ever observed is 13 billion light-years away. In fact, looking at the night sky is like looking back in time, for if you were able to instantaneously travel to a distance location in space, it may look a lot different than in your telescope. For example, a supernova occurring 100 million light-years away would have already dissipated by the time the light of this explosion has reached the Earth and becomes visible to our eyes.
Creationists often try to muddle science when attempting to refute scientific topics, such as the rates of sediment deposition or how fossils are dated. However, when presented with the astronomical evidence they going for running to find answers in their religious text, usually offering up some half-baked response like, in the beginning God “stretched” the heavens, in order to account for why we should see starlight that has traveled billions of years to reach the Earth. In fact, this cop-out used to explain the astronomical evidence is much like the excuses given to explain away the formation of petroleum and diamonds.
If Creationist wish to dabble in the realm of science, then they must be held accountable to use science in all aspects of their claims. But this is the key difference between the “Theory of Intelligent” and every other scientific theory. Because, if the evidence does not fit within a particular scientific theory, the theory must change or be discarded. However, creationists can never discard their theory nor can it ever be modified. So instead, it is the evidence that must change. Therefore, if Intelligent Design were treated like a real scientific theory it would have been abandoned long ago, never for an instant considered viable enough to be taught to anyone, let alone in our school system.
I making the presumptuous claim water could have covered the entire surface of the Earth, it is clear the Biblical authors did not comprehend the elevation of the highest peak, the great distribution and variety of animal species, the distances that separate the seven continents, or the processes by which geological phenomena are created.
Today even grade school children are taught about plate tectonics and the mechanisms of continental drift, information the authors of major Biblical events, such as the Creation and the Flood has no way of obtaining. For these reasons when we compare the Biblical accounts to the great wealth of knowledge we have accumulated about the world, these stories easily crumble under the slightest scrutiny.