Archive for February, 2013

Many, if not most, prominent Christian leaders of the last two centuries have accepted one form or another of the gap theory. That remains true today, though you may not hear the term very often. Many Bibles add footnotes which recommend these interpretations to the reader.

The Revised and Expanded Answers Book, from the Answers in Genesis organization, gives a good history of the theory, and virtually all creationist sites will have something to say about it. Versions of the gap theory are an attempt to harmonize the early chapters of Genesis with the evolutionary belief that life on earth is millions of years old. Many Christian leaders, unable to effectively question evolutionary geology, have unwittingly helped to popularize a deceptive idea.

I understand the politics involved in all this, and I recognize that it’s often easier for people to accept the truth as bits and pieces rather than all at once. That’s the way it was with me. After I began to doubt evolution and trusted Jesus, I continued to believe a form of the gap theory. It is only over a period of time that I have been convinced that the gap theory is wrong. “Intelligent Design” can be understood to include “Creationism.” At the same time however, many who believe in Intelligent Design have often opposed, or even suppressed Creationism.

It does appear possible that the earth, for a time after its initial creation (Genesis 1:1-2), could have been left “without form and empty.” We need to notice in verse two however, that while the earth was formless and empty, it was also in darkness. The second verse of Genesis sounds as if physical light was not created until afterward, and the sun, moon, and stars were created even later (Genesis 1:14-19).

Time, as we know it, doesn’t seem to have been reckoned until God created light on “the first day,” and may not actually have existed until then. We should also take note of some strange incidents recorded in the Bible relating to God and time, (see part 3 of “the Evidence,” in my October 2010 archives, and “Days of Creation,” in September 2011).

To account for the fossils in the sedimentary layers, the gap theory teaches that the destruction of an earlier creation occurred in the hypothetical gap of Genesis 1:1-2. When this is taught, you have just thrown away the proof of Noah’s flood. That’s not too smart. It leads some to teach that Noah’s flood was a local event, rather than the global event that it was. Then, to conform to that idea, many other Bible passages must be reinterpreted to be strictly symbolic. It all works together to undermine the credibility of the Bible.

The global flood set the stage for much secondary flooding which produced the earth’s superficial sedimentary layers. The deeper layers of sedimentary rock, that individually cover much of the earth, are the actual evidence for Noah’s flood. The fossils in these layers are from a global flood. They are not evidence that God used evolution to create the life that now exists on earth.

God didn’t create the forms of life on this planet by a trial and error process of evolution, with experimental creatures dying and leaving their fossilized remains over many millions of years. In Genesis 1:31, God calls his creation “very good.” According to Genesis 1:29-30, both humans and animals were designed to eat only plant life. The suffering and death recorded in the fossil record was caused by a deviation from design, brought about by humans that were no longer good (whenever we see the word “devil,” we should think of the process of deviation.)

If there is a gap in time between Genesis 1:1, and 1:2, then it was a time when virtually nothing was happening to the earth. God was brooding over the dark waters, seeing the possibilities, and seeing his cross ahead. I don’t know how long he thought about it. It wouldn’t take very long for God to think deeply.

There are a couple of other possibilities to consider that relate to our understanding of the passage of time. Most of the rock in the sedimentary layers has been recycled and can’t actually be dated by radiometric dating. It’s made up of eroded bits and pieces of older rock. In most cases, you would be dating rock that contains elements from an earlier period. The question of what can be accurately checked by radiometric dating methods is very complex and subjective. Another thing is that Adam’s age could possibly have been counted from his fall away from God rather than from his creation. Before the fall, Adam would not actually have aged, even though time was passing.

Gaps exist in all fields of human knowledge. That understanding should make us more cautious about the things we teach and the way we live. It should keep us humble, and at the same time, inspire a search for real truth.  In my life, first the theory of evolution, and later the gap theory, greatly hindered my own quest for truth and scientific understanding. I remain curious about many things, but the questions that remain unanswered don’t bother me as they once did. I trust the Bible, and I trust Jesus.

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You can easily find information on how sedimentary rock is formed, but where did the material for all the layers originate? How did layer upon layer of different building materials come to be spread out over the vast areas that they cover? Could it have happened over a short period of time? The fact that the material is from separate places, containing fossils from different areas, does not mean that it is from millions of years later in time.

Answers to the big questions tend to be vague, and your attention is usually redirected to another area. “Materials from erosion were deposited into low areas and shallow seas. Over millions of years these deposits were buried deeper within the earth, eventually becoming sedimentary rock.” Those are the words that we memorized as school children, but they are only partially true. The layers are evidence of extreme erosion, and violent mudslides that happened in a short period of time.

Creationists’ answers to these questions are more thorough. The New Answers Book 3, from Answers in Genesis, gives the following information gleaned from technical geological publications. Evidence shows that the material forming the Navajo Sandstone of southern Utah has been transported from the Appalachian mountains of Pennsylvania, and New York. Another layer, the Coconino sandstone layer of the Grand Canyon area, came from beyond northern Utah. Some of the deeper layers cover much of the earth, and it becomes impossible to say where they originated.

I would like to be able to take an area of exposed strata, and tell where every layer came from, but I haven’t been able to do so. Sometimes the best answer is found in a bigger question. An article in the 1971 Encyclopedia Britannica about the Silurian System of sedimentary rock layers is a good example.

In a section considering the possible sources of the Silurian sediments are these words; “There are at present no satisfactory solutions, although continental drift and oceanization have been offered.” The article mentions a couple of difficulties associated with continental drift, and then moves to oceanization. “Oceanization, on the other hand, requires such vast transfers of material within the mantle and deeper crust of the earth as to beggar the imagination of the geochemist and geophysicist.”

The best answer is that it was a combination of shifting continents and the action of water covering them. Here is a very big question. You can see what I’m talking about on the Google maps of the ocean floor (for some purposes, the old maps may be better than the new).

The mid-Atlantic ridge exists where the continents of the Americas once joined Europe and Africa. The continents have supposedly drifted apart a few millimeters per year as the underwater mountain range has grown. There are many cubic miles of sediment forming continental shelves at the base of the continents, but little sediment over most of the ocean floor.

Here is my question. If the continents have only moved apart slowly, at a rate of millimeters per year, why haven’t more sediments from the continents been left in the area all along the way? The evolutionary argument, that sea floor spreading creates very little sediment, make sense only after the continents are far apart. That doesn’t explain what would have happened to sedimentary material continually flowing into the area while the continents were inching apart.

Neither does the idea that the sediments are disappearing into subduction zones. There are no subduction zones in the Atlantic, except in the Caribbean area. I think much could be learned from a study of the Google maps. They show scars and faults on the ocean floor which are evidence of great slides of the continental plates. The supercontinent that scientists have named Pangea fractured, and the American plates slid rapidly to the west. This process raised the mountain ranges of the west, and created the subduction zones of the West Coast.

“Index fossils”, are particular kinds of fossilized creatures found mainly in certain layers of rock. They are clues about where the sediments came from, as well as the sequence of flooding. They do not tell a story of the passing of millions of years of time. When Index fossils are found in rock layers, it is commonly assumed that the rock is from a particular era of time however, Silurian, Devonian, or whatever. The origin of the sediment in the layer is ignored. Note that some of the lowest layers, in which fossils are not normally found, are probably from the time when land first emerged from underwater (Genesis 1:9), before God created life.

The general order in which particular kinds of fossils are found however, just happens to be the order that would exist if the earth had later been covered by a global flood. Creatures of the sea bottoms would be the first creatures to be buried (Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian). Next, sea creatures that were more mobile would be trapped in underwater mudslides. Then would come creatures of the shorelines and swamps, including amphibians, reptiles, dinosaurs and such.

Other creatures would be overcome as the floodwaters reached greater heights, and there would continue to be some mixing of fossils of fish and seashells along the way. I think there probably weren’t as many people at the time of the flood as some imagine, and the population was probably concentrated around Eden. With perhaps an exception or two, most fossilized remains that we have of humans are of people who lived after the flood. A global flood would have left behind many landlocked lakes and seas, which would have contributed to much localized flooding for centuries to come.

Would we take the Bible more seriously if mainstream science would admit that life might not be millions of years old after all? Certainly we would. Most scientists have latched onto the ideas of uniformitarianism and evolution because that’s what they want to believe. Those ideas allow God and morality to be more easily ignored. It is human nature to try to convince yourself, and to build up arguments to support your beliefs. In this way, science has created a grand facade that nothing short of the return of Jesus Christ can fully expose.

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