Delayed-Action Flood

Modern Plate TectonicsLacking a DpSU for today as we seem to be it’s time to return to the Acts & Facts magazine for February. Our article is John Morris’ Geologic Changes to the Very Good Earth, which is apparently another adaptation from his recent book, The Global Flood: Unlocking Earth’s Geologic History. The topic of this excerpt is plate tectonics.

The Flood cataclysm dramatically morphed the early earth into the earth we know today. Its original “very good” state was pleasant and stable (Genesis 1:31), but today things are not so quiescent. Earth’s crustal plates move relative to one another. If they collide, they either crumple up into mountains or plunge one beneath the other, producing volcanoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis.

Genesis 1:31 is of course the verse where God calls His creation “very good,” but the extrapolation that this must mean that the Earth was then – geologically speaking – “pleasant and stable” would appear to be baseless. What, exactly, is “very good” to an omnipotent and omniscient deity anyway? Consider the implications if He happened to be quite fond of volcanic mudpools (they’re actually supposed to be quite good for you, so would that make their omission an imperfection?).

Morris cannot actually give very much in the way of specifics about this supposedly perfect world:

In the original earth, most continents may have been connected as one great stationary supercontinent, but we can’t be sure. Creationists generally agree with plate tectonic theory, but they propose that the movements were much more rapid than what the uniformitarians teach. Whether or not the continents were connected at creation, it appears that all the land masses were together sometime during the Flood because rock strata traits match and continental boundaries fit together like puzzle pieces. Creationist geophysicists consider it likely that continents were indeed together at the height of the Flood and then violently separated.

Maksimovsky rockThe creationist catastrophic plate tectonics model usually begins with a continental arrangement that is very similar to pangea, the most famous (and most recent) supercontinent. The trouble with this idea – and quite possibly the reason why Morris isn’t about to commit to it – is that geology didn’t start there. While many of the most familiar modern mountain ranges owe their existence to the tectonic movements since the breakup of that continent, a few others are much older, including Russia’s Urals, North America’s Appalachians, and Australia’s “Great Dividing Range.” Pangea would already have contained the sediments of ages, sediment that creationists claim was laid down in an event yet to take place. Most importantly, pangea was not the first supercontinent – there is evidence of plenty of tectonic movement before that.

On the flip side, having the continents start in the pangea position is just so convenient for the catastrophic plate tectonics idea. You don’t have to deal with continents suddenly deciding to change directions, or have them move nearly so fast (still very fast though). It’s an attractive idea, but a flawed one. Knowing this it is wise for Morris not to commit to anything, but we are left in a rather strange situation: we are told of an arrangement that is “very good” – perfect, even – but we have no idea what it would look like.

The rapid raising of the continents out of the ocean on Day Three of creation week required forces of unthinkable magnitude. Once creation was completed, however, forces no longer acted in a fashion powerful enough to rend plates asunder and move them from their original locations.

Fossils of trees living before the Flood seldom give evidence that they grew at high altitudes. Present mountain chains were forced upward by the Flood.

It is rather difficult to fossilise anything at high altitudes, as sediment tends to be eroded from such an environment. Determining the altitude where a tree that has been washed down a river lived would be almost as hard, I should think. As such this absence of evidence makes for very poor evidence of absence. Creationists do like to posit, in effect, that there were no “high hills” prior to the flood for the waters to cover.

There must have been some difference in elevation before the Flood because rivers fed by the “fountains of the great deep” flowed by gravity to lower elevations (Genesis 7:11). Rivers of today are fed by snow and rain, but pre-Flood rivers were supplied by underground water sources and a nightly heavy mist.

Genesis 7:11 never actually says that the “fountains of the great deep” fed rivers prior to the flood, merely that they were “broken up” at the start of the flood. In fact, it is sometimes claimed that their mention is proof that the biblical authors knew about underwater springs – they certainly cannot be both. Meanwhile a global climate that includes no rain (I have never understood that condition) but mist enough to feed rivers would be a sight to see.

In Genesis 7:11, the Flood began with the breaking open of “all the fountains of the great deep.” Those on the ocean bottom caused a series of devastating reactions that fully altered the planet. Giant energy waves—tsunamis—rippled out from the quaking fountains, forcing water inland. Earthquakes and tectonic convulsions rattled the continents. Upwelling, molten magma evaporated seawater, spraying vapor into the atmosphere, continually resupplying “the windows of heaven,” and inundating earth with an unparalleled downpour and the resulting erosion. There was a special intensity for the first “forty days and forty nights,” but the tumultuous rain didn’t stop for five months (see Genesis 7:11-12, 8:3). Shock waves reverberated throughout the ocean, bringing unimaginable devastation to sea life. Waves of water and loose sediments carrying sea creatures were repeatedly pushed inland.

I almost called this post “A Vision of the Flood,” but I already used that. As it happens this “vision” is quite unbiblical: even ignoring all the things that aren’t in the bible, the claim that the rain did not stop for five months flatly contradicts what the account actually says. Genesis 7:11-12 reads:

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.

And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.

This would seem to say that the rain stopped after 40 days. Genesis 8:3, meanwhile, says:

And the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated.

We have previously seen it claimed (and we will again in the next paragraph) that the first part of this verse means that the water “continuously” flowed on and off the continents like the tide, rather than the more obvious reading that this means that the water simply drained, er, continuously. Whatever it means, this verse says nothing about when the rain stopped. The previous verse, actually, does mention the rain stopping but doesn’t tell us when with any more detail than that it was at some point before the end of the 150 days.

These actions led to the fossilization of trillions of marine organisms. First to be affected were dwellers of the ocean depths, directly impacted as the “fountains” burst open. Next, those in the continental shelf regions were devastated, followed by the coastline inhabitants, then those in low-lying areas, and, finally, the upland denizens. (This series mirrors the general sequence on the uniformitarian’s Geologic Column.) The waters continued rising in waves until the pre-Flood mountains were submerged. An abnormally high but fluctuating sea level was maintained throughout the Flood as complex interaction between tectonic and hydrodynamic forces caused the water to come and go in surges. Finally, during the next seven months, the waters drained off into newly deepened and widened ocean basins, exposing dry land and ending the Flood episode.

“This series mirrors the general sequence on the uniformitarian’s Geologic Column.” Oh really now? Wherever did he get that idea from? I wonder, given this, what Morris would make of the recent claim that the ancient Edicaran fossils were actually lain down on land. Oh, and take a look at that handwaving about “complex interactions between tectonic and hydrodynamic forces.”

Morris concludes:

The pre-Flood world—existing in wonderful equilibrium since creation—literally ruptured. The unleashed forces continued for some time, until the relative balance we now experience was re-established. The once “very good” earth was ruined by man’s sinful rebellion.

This is why I called the flood “delayed action.” The bible gives very little detail about why the flood actually occurred, jumping straight from reminiscing about the old days when men were real men etcetera to declaring that the whole thing was a wicked mess. The young Earth creationists thus tend to link the flood directly with the Original Sin, but this ignores the thousands of years that are supposed to have separated them. The flood narrative is just weird, and lacking the detail that it does it is no wonder that creationists just make up what they don’t have.

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