The Global Flood

The Geological Views

What Do Biblical Christians Most Need to Know on Creationism RIGHT NOW?
Update on the Fossil Record and Some of the Latest Thinking of Vital Interest to Evangelical Christians...


(Much of the information in this article is actually down to Dr Marc Surtees B.Sc. Ph.D. As a Creationist and a highly-qualified man, Marc is very current in these areas and an obvious source of information for clarification on some of these points. Therefore, whilst this is a UK Apologetics article, much of the information herein comes as expressed by Dr Surtees, especially in his work with the Edinburgh Creation Group. We offer Dr Marc thanks)


Geological views have tended to be divided between two groups:




1. The Catastrophists (the oldest group, now showing signs of a comeback), and,

2. The Uniformitarians.


1. Mount St Helens before the 1980 eruption.


2. Mount St Helens after the 1980 eruption.
The devastation has been amazing and the quantity of sediment produced has surprised many geologists. By now, the area has altered almost out of recognition and it is hard to believe that the eruption was so recent. Many have remarked that the initial impression upon seeing the residues which have built up suggests that the eruption occurred at least many hundreds of years ago.


The latter view really begins from James Hutton (1726-1797). Hutton was a Scottish geologist, physician, naturalist, chemist and experimental farmer. He is sometimes considered to be the father of modern geology. He more or less originated a view in which the slogan would become 'the present is the key to the past.' The basic idea was that any changes in the earth have been very, very slow - over many millions of years, and that conditions have never varied much. When Hutton proposed this view, the Catastrophists held the upper hand and few believed that the earth was 'many millions of years' old. They held the belief that the geological features of the Earth were formed by a series of sudden, violent ‘catastrophes’ beyond the ordinary workings of nature. The theory (Catastrophism, that is) was very old, hardly new, but it became better developed and explained as time went on. There was Thomas Burnet (1635-1715), William Smith (1769-1839) and the Frenchman Georges Cuvier (1769-1832). Smith did extensive work in identifying the British rock strata, but Cuvier was probably the most influential proponent of Catastrophism in the geology of the early 19th century. Cuvier also strongly opposed early evolutionary theories.

The Catastrophists mostly (but not entirely) believed that the history of the world is not as long as the Uniformitarians believed, only a few thousand years, in most cases, and they saw evidence of several catastrophes in the past. Many Catastrophists were also biblical Creationists but, again, far from all.

There was some ongoing debate between these two groups before Charles Lyell, in his 'Principles of Geology,' (1832) was considered to have won the day in favour of uniformitarianism. Around this time Darwin published his theory of evolution and since evolution - if it were true - would require the earth to be many millions of years old, the two views were considered to be a very good fit. Indeed, Darwin was strongly influenced by Lyell and was keen to amalgamate the two theories. Even keen evolutionist Stephen Gould, ('Evolution’s Erratic Pace.' Natural History, May 1977), believes that the decision of science to go with Lyell's view was largely on the basis of philosophic preference (i.e., “faith”).

But Catastrophism has been attempting to make a comeback through so-called 'Neo-catastrophism.' Derek Ager, past president of the British Geologic Association, declared himself to be an "unrepentant ‘neo-catastrophist.'" (Ager, Derek V. 'The Nature of the Fossil Record.' Proceedings of the Geological Association, 87 (2), 1976. Pages 131–159).
The problem is: what a geologist actually discovers in the rocks strata fits in much better with catastrophism than with uniformitarianism. Lyell himself is said to have admitted (in letters to his family) that he wished to free geology of the influence of Moses and that this was part of his anti-catastrophe motivation.

In 2009, there is a feeling among geologists that uniformitarianism has probably now had it's day and that catastrophists are again going to be much more listened to in the coming years. There are certain things which may be observed in the rocks which are just not happening today. These things support catastrophism - not uniformitarianism! Let us consider some of these:

* Massive Erosion.
This does not happen today on the scale on which it obviously happened during several dramatic episodes in the past.

* Thick Layers of Mud and Sand.
Again, this does not occur today in the manner in which the rocks demonstrate that it has happened in the past.

* Sea Animal Fossils Far Above Sea Level!
The fossils of fish have been found on the alps! How could that have happened? Only by some great upheaval!

* Sand Carried Right Across Continents.
The evidence here is from the United States where it is obvious that sand was once carried right across the land.

The evidence here can only support catastrophism.

Fossils

We now need to briefly consider the subject of fossils. First of all let us understand that fossils only occur in sedimentary rocks. Igneous and metamorphic rocks do not contain fossils.

* Fossilization is a very rare event - it's not the way things usually happen at all, therefore nobody should be surprised that there are not more fossils, however there are enough fossils to paint a very clear picture (about which more later).

* Most fossils are marine fossils (arthropods, molluscs, fish) - these amount to an amazing 95-98% of all fossils.

* The second biggest group (although, obviously, much smaller than the first group), are animals which had lived in coastal areas and river flood plains; some dinosaurs are included here (the term is employed loosely to describe all so-called "prehistoric" animals), there are many partial fossils of these, especially in the U.S., but only about 6 more or less complete very large reconstructed ones).

* Mammal and bird fossils are VERY RARE.

* We must always remember that a dead animal needed to be quickly buried in sediment in order to become fossilized. A dead animal would usually either rot or be eaten by another animal if simply left in the open. Therefore some catastrophic occurrence, whether widespread or local, is required.


What happened in 1980 at Mount St Helens has caused much upheaval and this was only local.

At this point something needs to be said about 'the geologic column.' It does actually exist although not in the glamourised, colourful and precise way in which it is found in school and college science textbooks. As Dr Marc Surtees has pointed out, if one were to walk from northwest Scotland to southeast England one would effectively be walking over much of the geologic column. Sometimes Creationists have too quickly scoffed at this column but they should remember that much of the original work on the column was carried out by Christian geologists before evolutionists became heavily involved. However, it is fair to say that it has been greatly over-simplified in many textbooks. One of the major problems with this 'column' is that entire sections of it are completely missing in some places. This, in itself, should start to alert one to the fact that the various strata were not slowly built up over many millions of years at all.

The record of geology seems to provide evidence for about five major catastrophes and mass extinctions to explain what is found. The first is probably the Great Flood, but that flood alone does not explain everything which geologists find. We must understand that the disruption of the Flood would have led to other major events as the world's surface gradually settled down again over a very long period of time. There would have been considerable post-Flood upheaval including much seismic and volcanic activity as the mountains, for example, were being thrown up.

Now a few more points which need clarification:

* Extinct animals WERE NOT primitive animals as evolutionists always love to infer. They were just animals which were caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

* The sequence of fossils was NOT caused by evolution.

* Earliest fossils such as trilobites WERE NOT primitive but were quite complex creatures. The Therapsids, for example, were not primitive. They lived during the Permian era. In looking at the eras of the geologic column the mistake which is made is to ascribe huge periods of time to each. It is now more widely understood that these things can form quite quickly given the correct, catastrophic conditions, as the Mount St Helens event of 1980 has clearly demonstrated.

* Birds (very rare) are found in the Jurassic.

Now let us look at the most likely scenario and explanation for what geologists find. We are only covering the layers of strata which are of major importance:

PLEASE NOTE: We effectively travel in reverse order here, 'Pre-Cambrian' being the oldest and 'Tertiary' being the closest to our own time (right at the foot of this article is a chart showing the correct order).

1. Pre-Cambrian.
Contains very few fossils (mostly igneous or metamorphic rock). Here there is evidence of dramatic mass erosion. Almost certainly this represents the destructive start to the Great Flood.

2. Cambrian.
Many have mentioned "the Cambrian explosion," this is because complicated and often advanced marine life forms are suddenly found here, indeed almost all phyla is here. Evolutionists are very embarrassed about the Cambrian strata for very obvious reasons.
This represents the recomposition of shallow seas following the Flood. As water was draining off the land following the Flood, huge sediment deposits were being produced - absolutely ideal for the production of fossils! For Dr Surtees, this period is clearly post-Flood.

3. Ordovician.
Recovery of normal sea life following the Flood.
Fossils coming from shallow seas near land masses. The land was recovering but with post-Flood catastrophes still occurring.

4. Silurian.
As for Ordovician (above).

5. Devonian.
As for Ordovician (above).

6. Carboniferous/Permian.
Some land animals now found as fossils. These were the families of the animals which originally came off the ark which finally met with some major turbulence, flood, volcanic or whatever. Mammal-like reptiles also appear here.

7. Jurassic.
Small birds and animals.

8. Cretaceous.
Larger "prehistoric" reptiles appear here - not in Jurassic!

9. Tertiary.
Large mammals appear.

What one finds is the abrupt appearance of fossils followed by stasis (the state of equilibrium or inactivity), but NO TRANSITIONS! Evolutionary geologists simply say that the transitions are missing, but can they ALWAYS be missing?


More on How Fossils Form

We have touched on this but let us now say a little more.

* You have to have a lot of animals around for a start! Again, fossilization is a rare event - not the way things usually happen at all.

* You also need rapid deposition of sediment.
Straight away this challenges the teaching of uniformitarianism which only allows for very small changes over great periods of time.

* To achieve several fossil layers you require episodic deposition of sediment. This is explainable only by some recurring major natural catastrophes. The fossil evidence is of about five major catastrophes.


The Dr Marc Surtees Fossil Hypothesis:

Proposition:
* A young earth, no more than a few thousand years old.

* Different fossil-bearing strata represent the Great Flood and various stages of the post-Flood recovery interrupted by catastrophic events.

Predictions of fossil occurrence resulting from this hypothesis:

a. Marine plants and animals the most common.

b. Animals living in coastal areas the most common (later stages of recovery following the Flood).

c. Inland terrestial animals the most rare - sediment needed!

d. Fastest breeding animals will generally recover first and appear first.

Fossils of land animals give evidence of recovery after the Flood (here Dr Surtees does not agree with some Creationists). According to this view, many of the fossils were NOT formed in the Flood (although, of course, many others were).

The presence of fossils perfectly fits the recolonisation of earth following the Flood.
Sometimes fossilized footprints are found - it is obvious that these must be post-Flood.

Question 1: What is the surest indication that the Great Flood was indeed global?
Answer: (the Dr Marc Surtees answer): All parts of the earth are covered by sedimentary rock - therefore, all parts of the earth were once covered by water.

Question 2: What post-flood further catastrophic events do you refer to?
Answer: Some of the post-Flood catastrophic events would include the mountains being thrown up following the flood with much volcanic and seismic activity, to say nothing of continental drift. It is impossible that the earth could have quickly settled down following the flood - the upheaval had been too great.

Question 3: How did all those animals get on the ark?
Answer: The total would have been several thousand - but that's all. For example, only one pair of cats from the cat family. The many, many differing kinds of cats would come later. The potential for numerous variations were already in the genetics; same for dogs, monkeys and everything else. Before the Flood the families of animals were much simpler. Also, it seems that the huge dinosaur-type creatures came much later. The average animal was about the size of a sheep.
UK Apologetics , March, 2009.

UK Apologetics acknowledges the assistance of Dr Marc Surtees BSc, PhD. especially in his work with The Edinburgh Creation Group

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