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Answers to my Evolutionist Friends,


Thomas F. Heinze

Geology is the study of the earth, its structure, composition, and history. How did the rocks we see around us on the earth’s surface form? Some are of volcanic origin. These are called igneous rocks. Sedimentary rocks, on the other hand, were formed as sediments were deposited and turned to stone. Some rocks have later been shaped by erosion. Most sediments are deposited under water, and most erosion occurs on land.

People who lived before Darwin generally believed that disasters, such as floods, particularly the great flood at the time of Noah, were responsible for stirring up and redepositing much of the sediment which now forms the rocks of the earth’s crust. This point of view was called catastrophism.

Geologists that Changed the World

Georges Cuvier who was put in charge of French science after the French revolution of 1789 observed 28 layers of rocks beneath the streets of Paris. He recognized that they had been laid down as sediments which had been carried by water but found it difficult to believe that one flood had caused them all. He maintained that each layer was laid down by a separate local flood, and contained fossils of the plants and animals that were living at that time. {Ian Taylor, The Genesis Flood, p. 2-3}

The Scottish geologist James Hutton who lived in the same period of time felt that the strata were produced gradually by the same slow processes we see going on every day:

The idea that ‘the present is the key to the past’ was developed by (1788)....Hutton asserted that ‘the past history of our globe must be explained by what can be seen to be happening now.’” {1998 Grolier Interactive Encyclopedia, “Uniformitarianism”}. Great floods and other great disasters were not considered to have been important in the formation of the earth:

Sir Charles Lyell built upon these ideas:

In opposition to the catastrophist school of thought, the British geologist Charles Lyell proposed a uniformitarian interpretation of geologic history in his Principles of Geology (3 vols., 1830-33)” {Encyclopedia Britannica CD 1998 }.

Lyle’s idea was put forth to oppose the idea that many of the earth’s features were formed by rapid events, particularly the Biblical flood. His chosen weapon to combat the flood of Genesis 6-8 was not the sniper’s rifle, but the shotgun. He got rid of the Biblical flood by shooting down all big floods and other great catastrophes.

The first volume (1830) of his Principles of Geology contained a vigorous indictment of catastrophism, the then-popular view that most of the Earth's history could be relegated to a short period of violent upheaval and flooding. Lyell argued instead that geological phenomena could be explained in terms of currently observed natural processes operating gradually over long periods of time, a concept termed uniformitarianism.” {Grolier Interactive Encyclopedia, 1998}

In Lyell’s time it became known that strata corresponding to those under Paris were also found in Ireland and Russia. Clearly no local flood could be responsible for laying down strata over such a wide area. Lyell suggested that after each layer was laid down, the land rose back up out of the water, then settled back under it and another layer was laid down, a slow process which was believed to have taken millions of years:

The subsequent writings of Sir Charles Lyell, particularly the many editions of his Principles of Geology, popularized the uniformitarian idea among English-speaking geologists. Lyell's work, however, extended the meaning of the concept to include the assertion that past geologic processes have operated at a more or less constant rate equivalent to the rates seen today and that the most important geologic processes are slow.

Most geologists jumped on Lyell’s bandwagon, and for the next 100 years, Uniformitarian Geology was the dominant way of interpreting the earth’s strata. While the idea was still popular Webster defined it:

"A geological doctrine that existing processes acting in the same manner and with essentially the same intensity as at present are sufficient to account for all geological changes." {Webster's Third New International Dictionary (Unabridged), 1964, p. 2498}.

The words “the same intensity” are important, as the idea that geologic changes in the past have occurred at more or less the same average speed as they happen today become the basis for the very long geological ages. Darwin, who felt that each category of plant or animal was gradually and constantly evolving into new kinds of plants and animals, needed all the time he could get, and uniformitarian geology provided the long ages which convinced him:

....One of the most important influences of uniformitarianism was on the development of the theory of evolution. Charles Darwin obtained a copy of Lyell's Principles of Geology shortly before boarding the Beagle and read it on the voyage that led to his theory.” {Grolier Interactive Encyclopedia, 1998, “Uniformitarianism”}.

The view that all the geographic features that we see around us (mountains, etc.) were built very gradually was for many years a sacred dogma of geology. From around 1980 to 1990 it gradually become less accepted. Most modern geologists today call themselves actualists, and don’t believe that nonsense any more. While they still believe in the long ages which were brought in by the old one grain at a time uniformitarian thinking, they recognize the fact that there have been many cataclysmic events which did very rapid geological work.

Even though his theory needed the time that uniformitarianism provided, Darwin admitted in writing that the fossil record did not show the slow continuous evolution that he imagined must have happened:

But just in proportion as this process of extermination has acted on an enormous scale, so must the number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed, be truly enormous. Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and serious objection which can be urged against the theory. The explanation lies, as I believe, in the extreme imperfection of the geological record”. {Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species, First Collier Books Edition, p. 308}.

Darwin was right in observing that fossils did not show the transitions between one major category of plant or animal and another. The missing links were really missing. His explanation was that not enough fossils had been discovered. However, after the discovery of millions more fossils, the “truly enormous” number of intermediate links that Darwin admitted should be shown in the fossils if his theory were correct, are still lacking.

Evolutionists, through the years, have usually pretended that this is not true, but:

In 1972, Mr. Gould truly shook up the field when he and Niles Eldredge published a famous paper coining the term "punctuated equilibrium." {Richard Monastersky, Chronicle of Higher Education, 3/15/2002, p14-}

What was it about the punctuated equilibrium idea that shook up their fellow evolutionists? Gould and Eldredge wanted them to accept:

“… the fossil evidence at face value, regarding it as a true representation of how evolution worked.” {Richard Monastersky, Chronicle of Higher Education, 3/15/2002, p14-} That is, he wanted his fellow evolutionists to tell the truth: The fossils do not show continuous gradual evolution, and we should not pretend that they do. That “truly shook up the field.” Gould believed the evolutionists should accept the fossil record as it was and figure out how evolution could have produced the fossils instead of claiming the fossil record showed transitions that it did not show in an effort to support the old way of looking at evolution.

Gould, who until his death in 2002 was one of the most anti creationist atheists imaginable, announced that the missing links were really missing and would always be missing because evolution had not occurred gradually and continually as Darwin had thought.

Gould’s suggestion was that after long periods without significant change which he called “stasis”, evolution had advanced rapidly in isolated groups so small that none of them happened to leave fossils. The long periods of little change called “stasis” are actually observed in the fossils. The invention of short episodes of rapid evolutionary change which don’t leave fossil evidence offered a solution to the problem of the lack of transitional sequences without the need of pretending that the fossil record was different than it was.

Mr. Eldredge and especially the more rebellious Mr. Gould were suddenly telling their colleagues to stand up for themselves and for the message that fossils were sending. "Stasis is data," the two proclaimed.” {Richard Monastersky, Chronicle of Higher Education, 3/15/2002, p14-} “Stasis is data” means that the stable periods without evolutionary change are what the fossils actually show.

Niles Eldridge explained this lack of evidence for evolution in the fossils: “… once a species evolves, it will not usually undergo great change as it continues its existence—contrary to prevailing expectation that indeed goes back to Darwin.” {Eldridge, N., Time Frames; The Rethinking of Darwinian Evolution and the Theory of Punctuated Equilibrium, 1985, p. 15. Quoted by Jerry Bergman, The century and a half failure in the quest for the source of new genetic information, TJ 17 (2) 2003, p. 23}

Because the isolated groups where evolution allegedly took place where too small to have left any fossils, the transitional steps that show that one group evolved from another can only be seen with the eye of faith.

Most evolutionists object to this, and continue to insist that mutations and natural selection have slowly produced one animal from another by a series of small changes until a bacterium became a biologist. In either case, real fossil evidence for the transitions has not been found. One group of evolutionists pretends that the evidence for transitions is there, while the other group has faith that the transitions happened, but left no evidence. The fact that evolutionary experts disagree among themselves as to which animals were the ancestors of almost every group of animals shows that the problem is real.

The Cambrian Explosion

One evidence against a gradual evolution was the sudden appearance of living things in what is called the Cambrian explosion, so called because fossils of many animals suddenly appeared in the fossil record, as if they had come out of nowhere. The layers where these fossils are found in such abundance are called the Cambrian strata. These strata were thought to include some from every phyla except vertebrates, though recently, fossils of fish which are vertebrates, have been reported in the Cambrian as well. The Precambrian fossils that have been found are by comparison very few, and to have little relation to the Cambrian fossils. Instead, all at once, apparently out of no where, were present representatives of every phyla (plural of phylum) which exists today. I include here the system that is used to classify living things. Each category is a subdivision of the one above. You will notice that the phylum is one of the most basic categories.

Kingdom (animals) (Plants)







In the strata below the Cambrian, called Precambrian, relatively few fossils are found. The oldest of these have been dated at 3.6 billion years of age and appear identical to fossils of certain modern bacteria that arrange themselves in a filament, or string like shape. Neither these, nor the other known Precambrian fossils, seem to be possible direct evolutionary ancestors to the Cambrian fossils.

Obviously, if evolution gradually made all other plants and animals from bacteria as evolutionists believe today, it must have also gradually formed all of their organs. Consider the trilobite, one of the index fossils for the Cambrian, the earliest period with numerous fossils. This may be the earliest eye in the fossil record.

"Paleontologist Niles Eldredge of the American Museum of Natural History commented:

These lenses— Technically termed aspherical, aplanatic lenses—optimize both light collecting and image formation better than any lens ever conceived. We can be justifiably amazed that these trilobites, very early in the history of life on Earth, hit upon the best possible lens design that optical physics has ever been able to formulate. {Found in Reason and Revelation, Oct. 03, as quoted in Ellis, Richard (2001), Aquagenesis(New York: Viking)}

Though Darwin and the evolutionists who have followed him accept the vast ages that the uniformitarian system provided, thinking that for the theory of evolution to work vast ages would have been necessary, the fit is not good. Getting evolution and the long ages to go together in the details reminds me of a shoe salesmen trying to jam a woman’s foot into a shoe that is three sizes too small and convince her that it will fit just right after she gets it broken in.

Geologists dated the fossil bearing Cambrian strata at 540 million years ago, feeling that it would take that long for uniformitarian processes to slowly, lay down the Cambrian strata and the many layers of sediments that overlie the Cambrian a grain at a time over the vast geologic ages.

There is a good deal of evidence that something is wrong, and these dates are not valid.

Uniformitarian Problems

How are strata laid down?

I mentioned that around 1789 Georges Cuvier noticed that there were 28 layers of rocks beneath the streets of Paris, and that in Lyell’s time corresponding strata were also found in Ireland and Russia. Theories of the land settling and rising again do not really explain how the strata could have been spread out over such a wide area. Rivers could hardly have spread dirt uniformly over areas many times longer and wider than the valleys of the rivers themselves.

Did the sediment sprinkle down on the ocean from heaven? Sometimes sediments do. I remember living in Tillamook near the Oregon coast for a short period just after Mt. St. Helen's had erupted in 1980. Though the prevailing winds are from the west, an east wind came through while Mt. St. Helen's was spewing out ash, and nearly an inch fell out on Tillamook. In those days trees were a crop to be planted and harvested, and log trucks frequently swept back and forth past our house blowing up ash and sending it billowing into the air. Some people wore dust masks just to walk down the street. When it rained, it seemed to wash all dust away, but as soon as it dried up there was the ash again.

Not all of the ash fell out near Mount St. Helen's. Some blew so high in the air that it circled the globe several times. Ash literally sprinkled down from heaven all over the world. It is easy to see how ash fallout could make very widespread strata covering huge areas.

Mud is a problem. How do clay and sand make strata? The idea that one strata was laid down at a time is foundational to evolution. That way, a fossil which is found in a higher strata is considered younger than one found in a lower strata. But how did the strata themselves get there? Mud that is washed off of a mountain settles out rapidly when the river gets to the sea. How did strata get spread out from Paris to Russia for example? Mud seldom falls from heaven in sufficient quantity to form a stratum.

A video showing an experiment which took place in the Engineering Research Center at Colorado State University, Foothills Campus is very logical, and should have come as no surprise to me. It did surprise me, however, because I had a vague, and completely incorrect idea of how ordinary strata are laid down. The experiment was carried out in a four foot wide flume or vat 60 foot long. A mixture of fine white sand and course black sand was added to water and expelled through a very large pipe into one end of the vat. The equipment used made it easy to see how the sand stratified as it was deposited. After the sand was laid down in the vat under steady discharge conditions, a deposit of sand three or four feet deep remained in the vat. The sand was deposited in a number of stratified layers, with the strata progressing out over the length of the vat.

How did the stratified layers sedimentary deposits on the earth get there? I thought the bottom strata must have been laid down first, then the second, third, etc. When I think it through now, I can think of no physical way in which this could happen. The vat is designed so the scientists could observe the process of sedimentation while it was happening.

A very large pipe dumped the water carrying the mixture of fine white sand, and course black sand in at one end of the vat. As the mixture came rushing out of the pipe, it did not lay one fine layer of mostly course black sand over the whole length of the 60 foot long vat, followed by a layer of mostly fine white sand. How could it? Instead, the sand immediately began to drop out of the water, not falling vertically, but rolled along by the flow of the water, it soon filled in to a fairly level flood plain with a height of three or four feet with a downward slope at the leading edge. The slope began at the left end of the vat where the water sand mixture first entered. As sand dropped out of the water, the water washed over the top of the sand which had already been deposited, maintaining a rather flat topped deposit while pushing the new sand along on top of what had already been laid down.

This is as close as I can show how the deposition occurred with the built in characters on my keyboard: First it looked like \. As the sand filled in, the sloping leading edge extended farther and farther out into the vat ——\. I would judge that the slope was probably a bit steeper than 45 degrees. As the sand water mixture continued to pour from the pipe, the slope moved forward, ————\ leaving a fairly flat mass of stratified sand around three feet or four feet deep behind the slope ———————\.

When the end of the vat was reached, a fairly level flood plain had been built up. The entire vat was nearly filled with stratified sand, one strata on top of another, all looking like they had they been laid down one layer at a time, first the bottom layer, then the second, etc. In actuality, all of the strata at the entry end were laid down before any of the strata at the far end. In the process of being rolled down the slope by the rushing water, the sand had somewhat separated itself into layers of smaller and larger sand. Perhaps because the grains with a larger circumference rolled farther with each rotation? In any event, the entire vat was left with horizontal strata of mostly smaller white sand interspersed with mostly larger dark sand. The strata were clearly visible as lighter and darker layers. It could hardly have stratified better if the sand had fallen from heaven one layer after another over the whole length of the vat.

This raises a serious problem. Geologists determine which kinds of animals lived earlier and which lived later by their positions in the strata. The deeper down they are, the longer ago they lived. This principle has been applied for years, and the theory of evolution depends upon it to a large extent. Is it right? Only if in the past sediments were deposited in some way completely different than the way they are deposited in the vat at the Engineering Research Center at Colorado State University, Foothills Campus. If the sand in the vat had contained animals which later became fossilized, a clam in the top layer at the entry end of the tank would have been laid down before a clam on the lowest level at the far end. Their height in the strata was not determined by the order in which they were laid down, so their order would not determine their relative age.

Changing the velocity, the amount of sand, etc. leaves ripple marks, cross bedding, etc. which are commonly found in the rocks. Because such evidence of rapid deposition is so often found in the rocks of the earth, a revolution has been going on for a number of years in the estimates of the time it took to lay down strata. If what happens in that vat in Colorado shows us anything about what happened when the strata of the earth were being laid down, the estimates of the time it took to lay down the strata will continue to diminish. Instead of a year, or many years to lay down one stratum, followed by more years to lay down the following strata, a big flood, could have laid down many stratified layers in a few minutes on the same day. We know it can happen because similar stratification has been observed to occur in deposits laid down in a short time by surging ocean waves from hurricanes, deposits from Mount St. Helens, etc.

Now think of deposition over a much wider area, such as the deposits seen in the Grand Canyon. The examination of outcroppings and bore holes show strata extending out over a number of states. If we can't think of a reasonable way you could put strata down one layer at a time that would cover an entire 60 foot vat, how much more difficult it would have been to lay down one strata at a time over an area which covers several states. If floods use the method of deposition that took place in the vat, it would explain how the sediments could have been laid down in stratified layers like we see in the Grand Canyon. Do they?

The Missoula Flood

Years ago, a Canadian glacier moved down near the site of present day Missoula, Montana where it ran into a mountain and formed a natural dam. Water from rivers behind the glacier were backed up by the ice, producing a huge lake. When the lake became deep enough, it may have floated the glacier a bit and rapidly flowed out below it causing a flood. Some think this may have happened a number of times as the glacier continued to creep forward against the mountain. In any event, the time came when the force of that colossal lake seems to have overcome the strength of the glacier and to have broken it away completely, causing a huge devastating flood:

We postulate… that the largest… Missoula Flood resulted from a cataclysmic failure of the impounding ice dam of glacial Lake Missoula. This large release may have been the result of a complete rupture of the ice dam.” {Jim O'Connor and Victor Baker, Geological Society of America Bulletin, 104 (3) p. 267}.

A lesser flood seems incapable of accomplishing the tremendous amount of erosion which this flood is believed to have performed, particularly the erosion of the hard volcanic basalt rock of the Columbia River Gorge.

Erosion is possible only during catastrophic floods exceeding those thresholds of stream power below which no work is expended in erosion. In fact, despite the multiple outbursts which occurred during the late Pleistocene, only a few of them had the required magnitude to overcome the threshold conditions and accomplish significant geomorphic work.” {Gerardo Benito, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, vol. 22(5) 1997, p. 457}.

By examining the mountains beside the Columbia, the height of the flood has been determined:

Maximum depth 285 m. (around 900 feet) at Hood River, 105 m. Portland.” {Gerardo Benito, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, vol. 22(5) 1997, p. 459}

The rapidly rushing water eroded whatever it touched, continually scraping up more and particles of dirt and rock, carrying them along across Idaho and eastern Oregon and Washington, then flushing them through the Columbia River gorge cutting it wider and deeper. Where Portland is now, some of the water of the Missoula Flood turned and went up the Willamette Valley carrying sediment which covered much of the valley with 50 feet of dirt. Much more washed out into the sea where it fell out of the water forming many strata on the sea bottom. Evidence that deposits from this flood stratified is seen in the Burlingame canyon near WallaWalla Washington. It is a deep steep sided canyon which was cut into Missoula Flood deposits when water poured from an irrigation ditch for a couple of weeks. Each of the 100 or so strata is defined by fine particles grading into courser particles. Can you think of any way the Missoula Flood could have laid down one stratum from Missoula Montana to the coast, followed by another thin stratum from Missoula to the coast, followed by, you get the point. This has been a problem to geologists with a uniformitarian background. Some have suggested that each of the 100 strata represents another Missoula Flood. Others believe in 10, 20 and 40 floods that each somehow laid down multiple strata. They refer to the Missoula Floods. The problem with any gradual deposition view is the ample evidence that there really was a huge flood that cut through large amounts of hard basalt rock, and filled the Columbia Gorge at Hood River with floodwater to a maximum depth of 900 feet. The biggest problem I see in accounting for the strata by one small flood after another, is that when the 900 foot flood came, one would have to believe that it eroded away few if any of the strata from the previous floods, and laid down few, if any, of its own.

Yet there must have been a big one, because small floods could hardly have cut through the hard basalt rock which was clearly cut out. If it did not have the erosive force to cut out the various strata of soft of mud and dirt recently deposited by the previous floods, how could it have cut through huge amounts of hard basalt rock? One big flood rushing through at the 60 to 80 miles an hour which have been estimated would have had the power to cut through the rock, and in the places where it could spread out and slow down have laid down many strata all at once.

How does water cut through rock anyway?


When water is running rapidly, it brings into play the terrific destructive capacity of — bubbles! The process is called cavitation. Here is the best description I have found:

Cavitation–bubble implosion–can make pieces of steel look as if they’ve been pummeled by artillery. An increase in internal pressure or a drop in the pressure of the surrounding fluid bloats a bubble to a hundred times its original size and creates an almost perfect vacuum inside. When normal pressure returns, the bubble collapses violently; if it’s on a surface, this launches a minuscule dagger of water through its center. . . . A cavitating bubble on a ship propeller, for instance, sends its water jet smashing into the metal at up to 560 miles per hour. . . .the continuous pounding can ruin a new propeller in a matter of days. {Fenella Saunders, “Bubble,” Discover, Aug. 1999, p. 50}

What cavitation does to rock was shown when a flash flood over filled the lake above the Glen Canyon Dam. This forced the dam’s crew to open the spill way which was built in the form of a big vertical tube made of concrete and steel three feet thick, and attached to the bedrock. This spill way ran from the top of the dam down to near the bottom where it curved up a bit to squirt the water out into the canyon. When the water behind the dam had to be lowered as rapidly as possible, due to cavitation, it eroded all the way through the three feet of concrete and steel, and then down into the bedrock to a maximum depth of around 40 feet, tearing out six foot boulders and one which was much larger. How many months did all that erosion take? The spill way was opened a total of one day!

Cavitation may have helped the mighty Missoula flood dig out the Columbia River Gorge. Estimates I have read of its velocity through the Columbia River Gorge vary from 60 miles per hour to 80. While I have not found an authoritative figure, I have heard that cavitation probably starts at around 60 mph. Cavitation may also have come into play in the Biblical flood. The spin of the earth while it was completely covered by the flood may have swirled the water around somewhat like it affects the earth’s weather patterns today, bringing it up to the speed of cavitation. If not, the floodwaters still would probably have moved fast enough early and late in the flood when funneled through a narrow valley, or when blocked and channeled by mountain ranges.

Strata which cover wide areas

Other than the wish that the Bible could not have been right about the big flood, why should we believe that most of the world’s sedimentary deposits containing fossils were laid down one layer at a time?

Certainly volcanic ash which falls from heaven can lay down one widespread strata with each ash eruption. Lime mud can also be laid down as if dropped from heaven as fish and plankton defecate, die, and fall to the bottom. But how does one account for deposits such as clay and sandstone?

This leads to another problem. Where there are huge deposits covering many states and not confined to one drainage system, a larger flood is probable. There are many formations for which a world wide flood seems to be either the only, or at least the best explanation.

Since the Missoula flood deposited its mud in stratified layers, one on top of the other like the experiment in the vat, why would not a worldwide flood do the same thing? As well as eroding and redepositing earth and rock layers on land, it would also scour up and redeposit ocean bottom sediments. {For a more technical, complete, and well documented explanation see geologist Steven A. Austin’s, Grand Canyon, Monument to Catastrophe, 1994, p. 28-39, and John Morris and Austin, Footprints in the Ash, 2003, p. 50-62, 70-77, 93-103.}

A very large flood would seem to provide the best explanation for groups of sedimentary strata which extend over large expanses of territory. Now imagine that two clams were picked up and redeposited by the rushing water which left them to fossilize somewhere within the many strata of mud that resulted. If a uniformitarian researcher found one clam a half mile under the other, he would believe that the lower clam had been deposited millions of years earlier than the upper clam. Was it?

Fossils under Uniformitarian Conditions?

Let me illustrate another of the problems of old earth geology with two experiences. The first was in Portland at OMSI, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. The museum hosted a traveling display of flexible moving statues of Australopithecines, Homo erectus, etc. The purpose of the display was to persuade people to believe that man had gradually evolved from ape like ancestors. A lifelike statue of Louis Leakey explained (by a tape recording) how the fossils of the creatures in the display were formed. The tape said that a person or an animal might die on the shore of a lake. Over a period of a thousand years or so, its body would gradually be covered by sediments, after which it might start to fossilize. This was a classic uniformitarian explanation of fossilization.

In the real world, when an animal dies, the carcass is soon eaten. When I was a kid I went hunting a lot. I would see the remains of deer that had died this year. Some bones from the year before probably still existed too, but I don’t recall ever seeing any. In a drier climate the remains would probably have held up longer, but when an animal dies on land, and its defenseless body is left lying on the surface, sooner or later, coyotes, vultures, bacteria, wind, rain, freezing, and thawing destroy it. If it is in the water it is eaten by fish, bacteria, etc. Long before a thousand years have passed or even a hundred, its body has returned to the dust. Instead, fossils normally form when animals or plants are rapidly covered by waterborne sediment (although a fall into tar pits, pitch, etc. sometimes works as well).

For years creationists stood almost alone against a solid wall of uniformitarian geologists. The creationists argued that there was something wrong with a theory which, to explain normal fossils, had to rely on bodies becoming covered gradually over hundreds or thousands of years. As I write this, most geologists have accepted the fact that a body will not fossilize unless it is covered rapidly. Some, however, still blindly accept uniformitarian doctrine. They are afraid that if they admit that floods and other catastrophes could cover bodies with sediment rapidly, they may also be opening the door to the biblical flood which would cause them to loose the huge amounts of time that they consider necessary for evolution.

When I have pinned down geologists who still have uniformitarian leanings with the speed at which dead bodies are eaten and decompose, they tend to suggest that fossils formed in strange environments such as oxygen free lakes, but this only works in theory. Actually, oxygen free lakes contain huge numbers of bacteria which live without oxygen, so plants and animals which end up in these lakes still rot out rapidly, even though they are not eaten by larger scavengers.

For this and other reasons, most geologists now admit that when things die they normally have to be covered rapidly in order to fossilize. Philip Curie with the Royal Tyrell Museum put it this way: “... if you can get buried, you can get fossilized.” {The Oregonian, Mar. 22, 2000, p. A6} Enough evidence has piled up to convince what are probably the majority of geologists now, that most of the strata, fossil bearing or not, have been deposited rapidly by flood action. Let me illustrate this shift in belief with another personal experience.

On entering the museum in the John Day Fossil Beds, an impressive foot high fossilized animal skull caught my eye. On a wall nearby was a poster that said that it had taken 39 million years to lay down the mile deep sediment of these fossil beds. By simple division I found that at that rate, on the average, it would have taken over 700 years to cover a foot high skull. In much less than 700 years, the top of the big fossil skull would have completely worn away, yet the top of the fossil showed no more erosion than the bottom which would have been covered and protected much sooner. I pointed this out to the well informed person in charge. After having read the poster on the wall, I had expected a uniformitarian explanation, so her answer surprised me: “It did not take 700 years. Fossils are formed rapidly!”

This newer position is sometimes called actualism. It still accepts an old earth, but it recognizes how fossils actually form, and accepts occasional local floods and other disasters which accomplish in a short time what under uniformitarianism would have taken many years.

Actualists are still committed, however, to the ages which had been assigned to the strata earlier when geologists believed the old, unmodified uniformitarian theory. This raises an obvious problem.

When she told me that the large animal skull had been covered and fossilized “rapidly,” I pointed out: “Fossils don’t form in a vacuum, but in strata, so all the layers of sediment which it took to cover this fossil and the others in the museum must also have been deposited rapidly.” (Fossils that extend through several strata are called polystrate fossils).

Most numerous were fossilized leaves, which are found in great numbers throughout the strata. Leaves are very delicate and would certainly have been destroyed if not covered rapidly. In fact, none of the fossils would have formed if they had been covered gradually, so every fossil in the John Day fossil beds represented a number of years that needed to be subtracted from the dates which were so prominently displayed. Since all, or most of the strata in the John Day fossil beds contained fossils, the dates must have been too old by something over 99%.

When I mentioned this she became a bit flustered but jumped straight to the heart of the problem saying: “That could well be true, but the important thing is to realize that the more complex animals evolved from the simpler ones.” She realized the danger to evolution theory if the long ages which had convinced people to believe in the theory of evolution were taken away.

Later, when I mentioned to a group of old earth geologists the problem of bones not lasting long if not rapidly covered by sediments, I was surprised when two of them said they thought that while the flesh would be eaten or rotted fairly rapidly, the bones would often hold up for 10 years before being buried, and one said that he had seen large bones 100 years old. This was quite a decrease from the 1000 years which were being taught by the traveling evolution display on a basis of uniformitarianism.

Plants and animals must be rapidly covered with sediments if they are to form fossils. Yet for generations, most geologists were willing to believe impossible things about how sediments were laid down and how fossils were formed in order to claim that the Genesis flood had never happened, and to manufacture the long ages necessary for evolution to have made men out of molecules.

To counterbalance the obvious weight of this evidence, my old earth geologist email friends started pointing out evidence that they thought supported a very old earth.

Why believe the earth is old?


They introduced me to the varves of the Green River formation. These varves are very thin layers of strata that are claimed to have been laid down two a year: a layer of courser darker sediment followed by a layer of finer lighter colored sediment found on the bottoms of ancient lakes. While similar varves occur elsewhere around the world, my experience since has been that the Green River Formation is the example most frequently used as evidence for slow and regular deposition over a very long period of time.

A young earth geologist in our group was well acquainted with the Green River formation, and noted that it was famous for its abundance of fish fossils, particularly catfish, many of which were fossilized whole so that the fossils represented not just the bones, but the flesh and scales. Many bird fossils are also found. These catfish were up to 24 cm long. Their fossils are not smashed flat to fit within a varve, but are often as high as a stack of varves that are claimed to have taken a good number of years to lay down. Obviously the speed at which these varves were laid down has been misinterpreted. Perhaps a pair were laid down by each wave that passed over. In any event, enough varves to cover a fish must have been laid down before the flesh and skin could be eaten or rot:

Experiments by scientists from the Chicago Natural History Museum have shown that fish carcasses lowered to the muddy bottom of a marsh decay quite rapidly, even in oxygen poor conditions. In these experiments, fish were placed in wire cages to protect them from scavengers, yet after only six and one half days all the flesh had decayed and even the bones had become disconnected.” {R. Zangerl and E. S. Richardson, “The paleoecological history of two pennsylvanian black shales,” Fieldiana: Geology Memoirs 4, 1963. Quoted in Creation 19(3) June-August, 1997}

In addition to the fish fossils are many fossils of thin hollow bird bones which are not easy to preserve.

John Morris has written of another evidence that these varves did not take millions of years to form: “… a huge lake without disruptive storms or variable river input, year after year for six million years? Surely some things cannot be.” {Acts and Facts, Jan 2003, Jan. 2003, p. d}


The email from another old earth geologist cited thick deposits of diatoms (which are ground up to make talcum powder) as evidence of an old earth because they would have taken huge lengths of time to lay down. I quote: “Diatoms grow in the ocean, but they take much time. Why? Because their skeletons are made of silica and the ocean waters don't contain much silica in solution. A very thin layer of diatoms would deplete the local waters of their silica content requiring more silica to be dissolved before more growth could take place.”

Art Chadwick, the same young earth geologist who had known about the abundant fossil fish of the Green River formation emailed back that he had been excavating whale fossils in a diatom deposit in Peru. He explained that the tiny sea animals, whose skeletons pile up to make the diatom deposits, grow and reproduce very rapidly after eruptions of volcanic ash fall into the sea. The ash is mostly silica, but also contains iron which the diatoms need for rapid growth called a bloom.

Whale fossils like other fossils have to be buried rapidly to be preserved. Since whales are thicker than many strata of slowly deposited materials, it takes a big bloom to cover whales with diatoms.

Usually, diatom remains are not the major component of bottom sediments. So many things like fish poop, dead fish, plankton and dirt also fall to the bottom that the diatoms are generally a rather minor part of the bottom sediments. Pure diatom deposits such as are mined for talcum powder could not form at all if they were not deposited rapidly. The diatoms must form and fall to the bottom in such abundance that they completely outnumber the contaminants. If it were not for the times of rapid bloom, all diatom deposits would be dirty and contaminated.

Old limestone formations

Limestone is easily eaten away by water which contains a bit of acid, usually the acid which forms when carbon dioxide is absorbed in water. Caves are the result we usually think of, but other strange forms result as well. Water runs down little cracks in the rock, enlarging them, and developing underground water circulation systems. All these features are included in the general name karst. Some think that certain karst features only form on the surface exposed to the air, and that some of these became buried many millions of years ago preserving these features, called “paleokarst.” These features are claimed to have taken many years to form, to sometimes exist one on top of another and show that the earth is very old.

Emil Silvestru, one of the world’s greatest authorities on limestone caves opposes this idea, because water continues to dissolve limestone even when it has been covered with sediment. He writes: “Moreover, even under a thick rock cover, karstification continues unchecked, making it highly unlikely that old Karst features could survive unchanged. If such long periods of time had been available, most of the limestone deposits should have been dissolved away a long time ago.”

“… By the time erosion and uplift brings the paleokarst to the surface again, clear neokarst features should be superimposed on the original paleokarst.”

However, it is important to understand that at no location is an extended paleokarst surface displayed. All descriptions of such surfaces have been extrapolated from boreholes, and consequently they reflect pre-existent theoretical models.” {Emil Silvestru, “Paleokarst, a Riddle inside Confusion,” CEN Technical Journal, 14(3) 2000, p 100, 104}

At the rate limestone is being dissolved today, if Karst features were really many millions of years old, they should already have been dissolved away, and no longer exist.


When you visit a cave and the guide shows you those beautiful stalactites hanging from the ceiling and stalagmites growing up from the floor, he will often tell you that it takes millions of years to grow one, yet, they are sometimes found in the basements of buildings built from limestone, under bridges, etc. Why? The millions of years claimed for them do not come from measuring the speed with which they are forming today, but from radiometric dates. The measured accumulation, however, while much more rapid than the radiometric ages, is often quite slow. Does the speed with which the dripstone is deposited ever change? Of course. It depends on the acidity of the water, and how nearly saturated with dissolved lime it is. Other factors also enter in. Here’s one:

While we were being guided through a cave in the country that was then called Yugoslavia, I noticed a handrail with a covering of hard heavy stalagmite around an inch thick all the way around it. When I asked the guide how long the handrail had been there, he said it had been put in about 20 years earlier. As we moved on in the cave, the guide told us that the cave had been used during the second world war to move troops under ground where they could not be seen. Then he showed us a connection to outdoors had been dug to let the soldiers in and out. A door had been put in to close off the new entrance. When the door was open, a breeze blew through from the front opening of the cave. The guide said the door was often left open. The dry air blowing in from the front of the cave and out the door allowed the water which contained lime to evaporate rapidly from the stalactites and stalagmites, causing them to grow rapidly. The openings of old caves tend to gradually close off as dripstone builds up, cutting off air circulation and greatly slowing the rate at which stalactites grow with the passing of time. Their present rate of growth may have nothing to do with the rate years ago when natural doors were open.

Polystrate trees

Fossilized trees standing upright through as many as thirty feet of strata are found all over the world. Examples can be seen on John Mackay’s website:

Such fossils often go up through a large number of strata, showing in each case that these strata were laid down in less time than it took the tree or whatever to rot out and fall down. Even if the deposition of a group of strata is claimed to have taken millions of years, if the strata are penetrated by a polystrate tree fossil it is clear that the time was really less than it takes for a tree to rot out and fall down. It would be a good project for someone to collect all the examples possible, and find where they were supposed to lie in the geologic column. Many of them probably overlap each other, and would show that larger sections of the column than the length of any one of the polystrate trees were all laid down rapidly.

Coal is used as an evidence for a very old earth. To account for coal, evolutionists generally claim that it formed very gradually over thousands or millions of years as organic material grew in a swamp, accumulated and turned into peat and then to coal. One interesting polystrate tree turned to coal connects two coal seems that are hundreds of feet thick. The usual theory on coal formation is evidently not the way that these two seams of coal formed. They must have formed in less time than it took for the tree to rot and fall down.

Then there are the cases of very pure deposits of coal hundreds of feet thick. It is hard to think of millions of years, or even hundreds of thousands of years of peat gradually forming and changing into coal without dirt, clay, or other contaminates that the peat grew in, or that fell into it being found in the coal.

Ripple Marks

Ripple marks which have turned to stone are among the most common formations found in the strata. At the beach we have all seen these marks left in the sand by waves or current. How long could a ripple mark hold up if it were not covered rapidly by another layer which would protect it? In rough shallow water, ripple marks might last until the next wave hits. If the water is deep and usually calm, perhaps until the tide turns or even until the next storm. Even if rough water never comes again, crabs, worms and bottom fish are constantly reworking the ocean floor and before long ripple marks are destroyed. Yet ripple marks exist in huge numbers, turned to rock in the strata.

Ripple marks and cross bedding turned to rock are visible in many of the strata of the Grand Canyon and in sedimentary rocks throughout the world. The time between the formation of a ripple mark and the formation of the layer which covered it was clearly very brief.

Ariel Roth writes of an experience when living in an underwater lab at a depth of 15 meters studying coral:

One night I could not sleep because of a storm severe enough to rock our underwater laboratory. The next morning, to my surprise, I noted that the storm had left a neat pattern of ripple marks all over the sandy floor of the ocean. Three days later fish, clams, crabs, snails, and worms which persistently forage on the sand had erased the pattern.” {Origins, Linking Science and Scripture, 1998, p.244}

I suppose the question comes to each of you as it did to me: If the strata had really been laid down slowly and steadily, so that millions, or thousands or hundreds of years passed after one layer had been deposited and before the next, why are ripple marks (and cross bedding) among the most common formations found throughout the strata?

Stubborn Geologists

An interesting part of the Missoula Flood story is that even though a great deal of the earth’s surface in the northwestern part of the United States was shaped by this flood, for many years after the evidence was first reported geologists refused to believe it had ever happened. Why? The question of where the water had come from entered in, but mostly they refused to believe because uniformitarianism blinded them to the evidence. Admitting that the Missoula flood had indeed occurred might again open the door to big floods. For many geologists this was unthinkable. If erosion and deposition had not always happened slowly, creationism and the Biblical flood might come sweeping back in.

The evidence for uniformly slow processes and against big floods was like that in favor of the emperor’s new suit of clothes. The abundant evidence against it made no difference. Almost all geologists could clearly see it. Then, in 1923 the unthinkable happened. The little boy who blurted out: “The emperor is naked!” was a geologist named J. Harlan Bretz. He became a laughing stock, scorned by his colleagues because they realized that if his discovery proved to be right, floods would be in and Uniformitarianism, the reason they knew that the earth was old enough for evolution to have taken place, would be discredited. Bretz pointed out huge now dry rivers and waterfalls, tremendous canyons and other evidence, but that generation of geologists had to pass off the scene before his discovery of 1923 would be accepted around 1960.

Drifting Continents Shove Out Old Ideas

It had long been noticed how the west coast of Africa seemed to match the east coast of the Americas, but it was considered to be nothing more than a strange coincidence. Then a man named Alfred Wegener wrote a book in which he proposed that the continents had been together at one time and had moved apart. Like J. Harlan Bretz, who reported the Missoula flood, Wegener became a laughing stock as most geologists clung to their presuppositions:

The scorn being bestowed on the idea of moving continents . . . was severe enough that to show support for the idea could damage ones scientific reputation” {Ariel A. Roth, Origins, 1998, p. 36}.

Peer pressure can be a terrible thing. It can blind our eyes. It makes millions of people take up smoking or drugs though they obviously destroy the health, finances, and often the character of those who use them. It is hard to find a rational reason why anyone would ever take the first step down that slope, yet millions are able to rationalize in ways that are clearly contrary to the evidence. We have all seen fathers who did not have enough money to buy clothes for their kids blow most of their pay check on booze, gambling, cigarettes, etc.

Geologists are people too. They found it hard to give serious consideration to evidence which went against what they wanted to believe, particularly when they knew that if they accepted the evidence, their reputation would be destroyed. In the long run, though, most became convinced that earth’s crust is formed by big plates that float on molten rock (called plate tectonics). Where the plates run into one another the front edge of one dives below the trailing edge of another and melts.

In less than half a century the foundations of modern geology had moved almost as far as the continents: Floods and moving continents came in. Uniformitarianism was going out. Many geologists who lived through the transformation are every bit as sure they understand these things correctly now as they were before when they believed the opposite.

How Long Did It Take to Lay Down the Strata?

I have mentioned the uniformitarian displays at museums with their message that it took 700 years to cover one fossil around a foot high, and in another place and time, 1000 years to cover a six or eight inches fossil. The Missoula flood, however, laid down 50 feet of sediment in parts of the Willamette valley in a few days.

Geologist Steve Austin has pointed out evidence that most of the strata of the Grand Canyon were laid down very rapidly. {Steven A. Austin, Grand Canyon Monument to Catastrophe, 1994}

Most old earth geologists today call themselves actualists, and agree that large parts of the geologic column were laid down much more rapidly than the uniformitarian geologists before them had thought.

How much less time do they now think it took to lay down the sediments of the geologic column? This is hard to believe, but they don’t think there was any reduction at all in the time! They realize that the strata were laid down much more rapidly than they had believed when they still believed in uniformitarianism which had helped establish 4.6 billion years as the age of the earth, and 540 million years as the time from the Cambrian till now. Now that they believe that the strata were laid down much more rapidly than the uniformitarian theory had permitted them to believe before, how old do they think the earth is? The same 4.6 billion years. How long from the Cambrian till now? The same 540 million years as before. How can they believe that the strata formed much more rapidly, but still took the same length of time?

They now claim that most of the time that it took to build up the geologic column ticked off waiting for the next shoe to drop. That is, after one group of strata had been deposited rapidly, there was a long wait before the ocean began to drop out the sediments that would form the next layer.

Strata that we had thought took a million years to be deposited were actually laid down in a night? No problem! after that night, the sediment just sat there for a million years before the next layer was laid down.”

Most of the missing time is put between layers that give some evidence of time having passed, erosion for example. However, in other cases they put millions of years between layers that don’t look like a day had passed. The speed with which the strata of the geologic column appear to have been laid down makes no difference whatsoever in the time old earth geologists believe it took to build up the column. To come out with the same timing the uniformitarianists and radiometric dates had given before, they simply claim that millions of years were hidden here and there between strata. They see those years with the eyes of faith.

The present is the key to the past.” This was the key phrase of the uniformitarian geologists. Today’s geologists no longer believe it. Most strata appear to have been laid down rapidly by water, and they believe that for the most part they were. The term “old earth geologists” more accurately describes most of today’s geologists who often call themselves “actualists.”

How many of the years they believe have passed were actually in the gaps between strata rather than laying down the strata? Old earth geologists now say: “Most of them.”

I wondered how many years of the 540 million years that they believe have passed since the Cambrian layer (the earliest strata with lots of fossils) would be hidden between the layers: 300 million years? 400 million years? 500 million years? I asked the old earth geologists in our email group how long they thought it had taken to actually lay down the strata of the Grand Canyon from the Cambrian on up to the top. I chose the Grand Canyon because it exposes more of the layers than any other place on earth, and has been studied extensively. At first the only answer I could get was: “I wouldn’t want to guess!”

However, after a bit of prodding, Jonathan, a university geology professor, sent me a long, carefully studied email in which he went through the individual strata of the Grand Canyon giving what he considered a reasonable minimum and maximum time period for the formation of each layer. At the end, he added them all up. I was amazed at his answer: “Total deposition time from the Cambrian layer to the present: two and a half to five million years.”

Even the longer five million year figure is less than 1% of the 540 million years that geologists for well over 100 years had claimed. Could peer pressure and the fear of a come back for the Biblical flood make such a stupendous change in the way the same scientists view the same evidence at different times in their lives? It did!

As more and more is learned of the strata of the Grand Canyon, the time geologists believe it took to deposit the strata is getting shorter. For example, we now know about the thin layer of nautiloid fossils within the Redwall Limestone, the thickest layer you see as you look at the canyon wall. These two foot long six inch thick cigar shaped animals were a sort of a squid in a shell. The force of the mud flow aligned them in a particular direction as they were carried along and then deposited. The several foot thick deposit of these fossils is now known to be so widespread that it covers at least portions of several states. It takes a powerful current to spread a thin layer that far. Crossbedding is another evidence of rapid deposition. It is caused by a wave carrying in and depositing material on an angle to other strata. There are crossbeds 30 feet thick in the Redwall Limestone! While lime deposits also form gradually as animals die and fall to the bottom, this formation was deposited rapidly as powerful currents scooped up lime mud and dumped them there. If one does not accept the Biblical flood as the cause of these powerful currents, he must either pretend the limestone was deposited slowly as the uniformitarians who did not know about the nautiloid fossils did, or try to invent some other source of such powerful currents.

Earlier the uniformitarian geologists had won a great victory over the young earth geologists by proclaiming with one voice that it had taken huge amounts of time for the ocean to gradually let fall to the bottom the grains of sediment that now form the many layers which have since turned to rock. Today most old earth geologists believe that this idea was wrong. They look at the strata and admit that the time it took to deposit the sediments was much shorter than uniformitarian geologists had thought. Does that mean they admit that the total time that elapsed was too short for evolution to have taken place?

No!” they say. “The rest of the time, perhaps 535 or 537.5 million years out of 540 million from the Cambrian until now ticked off between the layers!” What a revolution in old earth thinking took place in 40 years!

When time has elapsed between one layer and another, the contact line between the layers is called an unconformity. The type of unconformity where there is no physical evidence that time passed between the layers, is called a paraconformitiy. While most of the time is put between layers where there is evidence that some time did pass, old earth geologists maintain that other millions of years of the history of the Grand Canyon were hidden in paraconformities where physical evidence of time having passed between the deposition of one layer and the next is just not there. It is called an unconformity for other reasons which have to do with the dates that they accept for the rocks. If the fossils the rocks contain, or radiometric dating methods make them think time has passed, for them that trumps the physical evidence that one layer was laid down right after another.

Evidence of Time having passed

How can you tell if time has passed between one layer and another? When not under water, land is constantly eroding leaving gullies and valleys. Animal burrows and soil are formed. When another layer of sediment is laid down on top of these features and turns to rock, the evidence of time having passed between the layers is preserved.

Strata which remain under water for long periods of time without being eroded by the waves or rapidly covered by another layer of sediment, gradually become covered with a layer of muddy lime from what is left of dead plankton and other sea creatures, fish droppings, pieces of shell, etc. Worms, clams, and other sea animals make burrows. When another layer of sediment is dumped on top and turned to rock, the evidence of time having passed is preserved.

If you look at a place like the Grand Canyon where many layers of strata are easy to see, most appear to have been laid down one right after another under water. Some contacts between strata actually do show evidence of some time having passed between the layers, and for the most part geologists have chosen to put the contact lines where the greatest amount of time has passed between these strata. In other cases, millions of years are claimed to be hidden between layers which show little or no evidence of any time having passed after one layer was laid down and before the next. The contacts are straight and level, apparently just like the contacts with the strata above and below. The book Grand Canyon, Monument to Catastrophe, 1994, by Steven Austin, a creationist geologist who is respected and taken seriously by old earth geologists explains the problem. In his pictures on pages 42 to 78 you can see the contact lines called unconformities where millions of years have been tucked out of sight between two layers of rock. Some show physical evidence at the contact line of time having passed, and others do not.

Old earth geologists have told me that this just shows how much better it is to follow radiometric dates instead trying to calculate how long the evidence of the strata would seem to indicate. It could also show how much peer pressure, and ones worldview, can determine what he believes.

Remarkable! They admit that their old opinion of the time that it took to lay down the strata, was off by perhaps 99% and now they want me to not only accept their new opinion, but to believe that the time that passed was identical!

Radiometric Dating

Evolutionists feel that evolving men from microbes takes lots of time, and that the earth is very old. There are many ways of dating the earth and, as we will point out later, almost all give dates far to recent to allow enough time for germs to evolve into geologists. Until a few years ago, the idea that sedimentation had been very slow, yielded the old dates evolutionists needed. Since geologists now admit that real rates of laying down sediment do not allow enough time for evolution, radiometric dates which come from interpreting the breakdown of radioactive elements are used instead.

God was certainly capable of making the earth whenever He wanted to, whether recently or long ago, so evidence that the earth was old does not constitute evidence that God did not create it. However, the lack of long geological ages would exclude the possibility of evolution having slowly made men from molecules.

How Does Radiometric Dating Work?

Whether the radioactive material be carbon, potassium, uranium, or some other substance, the general method is the same. The substance which is breaking down by shooting off atomic particles must be accurately measured, and the products of this breakdown must be accurately measured. Then by knowing the rate of disintegration and assuming it to have been constant throughout the ages, calculations can be made to determine the age. It is much like determining how long a candle has been burning by measuring what is left of the candle, and calculating the rate at which it presently burns. If the candle has always burned at that speed, and you guess right as to its original length, you can be quite accurate. You can never know for sure, however, that the assumptions of speed and original length were correct. {Woodford, Historical Geography, p. 218}.

Radioactive dates are now fundamental to the idea of an old earth, but they depend on assumptions which cannot be proved, some of which seem unlikely:

The rate of breakdown has never changed.

None of the daughter product of the radiation was present at the beginning.

None of either the radioactive element or the daughter element has ever been washed in or out.

When we are dealing with potassium argon dates, because argon is a gas, when a rock is completely melted, as when it comes out of a volcano, all of the argon is considered released and the clock reset. Therefore, radiometric dates indicate the number of years since the eruption.

Basic Problems

Radiometric dates are important to the conflict between creation and evolution because they are used to date fossils. However, the fossils in question cannot themselves be dated. Neither can the sedimentary rocks in which fossils are usually found. Dates of the sedimentary strata which contain the fossils in question must be calculated by their position above or below strata of volcanic origin. These contain radioactive materials which can be dated.

The exception is the carbon 14 method of radioactive dating which will date the fossils themselves. With recent advances in its accuracy carbon 14 will date specimens containing carbon with dates up to 90,000 years ago. It seems strange to people who believe in an old earth, but all carbon samples date at less than 90,000 years. Dinosaur fossils are usually dated by potassium argon at 70 to 150 million years ago. They are often found together with carbonized wood which should be much too old to be datable by carbon 14. Instead, they are datable at less than 90,000 years, generally less than half that. Scientists who want their fossils to receive old dates, do not have them dated by radiocarbon. Creationists who want to compare potassium argon dates to radiocarbon dates send specimens of each to separate labs. Even coal is datable. Everything seems to be datable by radiocarbon.

A problem is that the original element and the product of its breakdown (called the daughter element) have differing degrees of solubility in ground water and the various mineral solutions it contains. Ground water is constantly passing through the earth on its way to the ocean. It is impossible to be certain that it has not dissolved and carried away any of the radioactive materials which are used in dating. This problem is greatly compounded if one believes that the ground water has been working at leaching elements out of his sample for millions or billions of years. Adding to the leaching problem are the high pressures deep underground caused by the weight of rock and water above that are pushing the water along through the rock.

When basements are built under modern houses, a layer of plastic is spread out before the cement is poured so moisture won’t come up through the cement. I have a basement that was poured before this kind of plastic was invented. Since water evaporates from the surface more rapidly than it comes up through the cement, the floor looks dry and feels dry. However, when I store a cardboard carton of my things on the concrete and come back in a year to pick it up, the bottom falls out of the box. Sometimes the contents are ruined by the moisture which came up through the cement.

Cement is about as much like rock as anything man makes. Even if some rock is much better at stopping water than cement, how sure can we be that in the millions, or billions of years which are suggested by radiometric dates, not even one drop of water has seeped through? If it has, some of the materials which must be accurately measured to calculate the correct date may have been leeched out.

In the case of potassium argon dating, which is the method most commonly used for dating fossils which are believed to be old, the potassium does not remain as an element, but forms compounds, many of which are easily soluble in water. If any of the potassium has leached out, the sample will yield a date which will make the rock appear to be older than it is. If more argon (the daughter element) has escaped or been leached out, the rock will seem to be younger. If either of the elements has washed into the rock from somewhere else, the method's accuracy will be reduced in the opposite direction.

Even being sure of accurate measurements is not easy. In the case of the argon, the sample must first be freed of argon contained in the air by heating, and then further heated to release the radioactive argon in the sample.

Known Dates

When rock melts, the argon which is a gas boils off and the clock is reset. A way has been found to test the accuracy of these dates: Scientists have taken samples of rock from recent eruptions whose dates were known. They have sent these rocks to the laboratories which do the radiometric dating to check up on the accuracy of radiometric dates. Whenever I have seen these tests written up I have saved them. Usually the potassium argon method has been used because it is the method most commonly used to date fossils. I have noticed two types of problems:

Different rocks from the same recent eruption often yield dates that differ from each other, even by millions of years.

These rocks came from volcanic eruptions whose dates are known, and were molten lava a few years ago. The radiometric dates for these rocks are much older, usually hundreds of thousands or millions of years old.

Usually old earth geologists suggest that these dates were wrong because on the way up through the volcano, the molten lava picked up tiny pieces of rock with a higher melting point which did not melt. In that case the atomic clocks for those pieces would not be reset and dates which included them would be wrong. Because this is possible, creationists have tried crushing the rock and taking out anything that looked suspicious. They have also divided the grains into the specific minerals contained in the lava, sending each as a separate sample. Almost all dates are much too old. We would expect the same problem to have affected the accuracy of the samples whose dates were not already known. Why would that problem just affect those samples that some one was having tested to check up on the accuracy of the dating method?

One geologist claimed that the creationist who was checking the accuracy of the dates was dishonest to do it because potassium argon dates under three million years old are inaccurate.

If his criticism is valid, virtually all dates which have been used to show that man evolved, must also have been dishonest, because dates for Australopithecus from whom we are claimed to have evolved range from 750,000 to four million years ago, so only a handful of the very oldest dates for this extinct ape would be valid.

One scientist who had sent in samples to test the accuracy of the dating method wrote later:

We know the true ages of the rocks because they were observed to form less than 50 years ago. Yet they yield 'ages' up to 3.5 million years which are thus false. How can we trust the use of this same 'dating' method on rocks whose ages we don't know? If the method fails on rocks when we have an independent eye-witness account, then why should we trust it on other rocks where there are no independent historical cross-checks?” {Andrew Snelling, “Radioactive ‘dating’ failure,” Creation, 22(1), Dec. 1999-February, 2000, p. 20)

In his book, Grand Canyon, Monument to Catastrophe, geologist Steven Austin analyses the published dates for lava flows from volcanoes at the top of the Grand Canyon, and has sent in other samples to be dated himself. Some of the lava has flowed like a waterfall all the way down the face of the canyon. Unlike water which dries up and goes away, the lava is still there, stuck to the surface of the layers of strata, from the top to the bottom. While the exact historical date of these flows is not known, they are obviously younger than any of the layers of rock under them. Perhaps because they are in a famous place, they have been dated by various geologists and by various dating methods.

The youngest date was one Potassium argon date of 10,000 years. Another sample of the same flow gave a date of 117 million years. A flow which extended all the way down to the river dated at 1.2 million years. These dates contrast strongly with the Rb-Sr dates which range from 1.3 billion years, and the Pb-Pb age of 2.6 billion years. All these are dates for volcanic rocks on top of all the other layers of Grand Canyon strata.

At the bottom, underneath all the layers of sedimentary rocks, lie the Precambrian rocks called Cardenas Basalt which lie down below all the layers which contain fossils. Radiometric dating places these underlying rocks from 791 million years to just over one billion years. The radiometric dates for the rocks on the bottom are younger than the majority of the dates for the lava flows on top!

Why are such inconsistencies of radioactive dating important? Previously old earth geologists believed that the sediments of the geologic column had been deposited very slowly. Dating based on that belief had been largely comparative. A layer was considered to be laid down before another if it contained fossils of simpler plants and animals. Radiometric dates gave seemingly solid numbers that went very well with the time it was believed to have taken to slowly deposit the sediments, and were accepted. Now that geologists have abandoned uniformitarianism, radiometric dates are the main source of dates that evolutionists to believe allow enough time for evolution to have taken place.

Experiments have been done recently on tiny radioactive zircon crystals in granitic rock. They contain radioactive Uranium and Thorium atoms which produce helium in the course of their radioactive decay. Helium is the very light weight gas that makes blimps and balloons rise into the air. Because its atoms are so small, they are constantly diffusing out of the zircons. Zircons can be dated by comparing the rate with which the helium diffuses out with the rate at which it is produced. Zircons dated by the uranium lead method at 1.5 billion years, have also been dated by the helium they still contain. They were only 6000 years old. [The ICR publication, Impact, Dec. 2003, p.iii}

The difficulties are being glossed over, but when we dig down below the gloss, radiometric dates lead to some impossible conclusions. Where they can be checked out, they are wrong. Where they cannot be checked out evolutionists for the most part swear by them. With the death of uniformitarianism, they are the only thing left that gives enough time for evolution.

Did Hot Act Cold?

Old earth geologists tell us that the earth has cooled a great deal from what it was in the past.

What would it have been like in the past when it was hotter? We can tell because a hot moon of Jupiter called Io is much hotter than earth, and has been observed. A rocket was sent near it from earth. Because of its heat, Io is known for its violent geologic activity. One of its volcanoes:

puts out more energy than all the volcanoes on the earth combined, and has ... a lava fountain that shoots more than a mile above the moon’s surface....”{Michael Carroll, “Galileo meets Io,” Popular Science, April 2000, p. 26}

Another shoots a plume 300 kilometers into the air. {NASA Space Science News, Oct. 4, and Nov. 5, 1999,}. Its tallest mountains seem not to have been volcanoes, but to have been pushed up from below, and “soar to 52,000 feet above the sulfur encrusted plains.” {Michael Carroll reference above}.

Since heat drives volcanism, when a moon or planet is hotter, it has more volcanoes and mountains are uplifted more rapidly then when it is cooler. In fact, the NASA article also stated:

"Io is the next best thing to traveling back in time to Earth's earlier years. It gives us an opportunity to watch, in action, phenomena long dead in the rest of the solar system." {}

Scientific American expressed the same thought this way:

Io may thus be giving scientists an unexpected glimpse into Earth’s geologic youth, a time when its interior temperatures were higher....” {Torence V. Johnson, “The Galileo Mission to Jupiter and Its Moons,” Scientific American, Feb. 2000, p. 47}

Sounds reasonable. The problem is, if radiometric dates are correct the exact opposite occurred on earth! Evolutionists feel that earth started to form around 4.6 billion years ago.

Old earth geologists believe that our planet was built up gradually as space junk passing by was pulled in by the earth’s gravity. The friction of the impacts of the bits of matter slamming together to form the earth made it very hot but it had cooled enough to have an ocean and continents by around four billion years ago. Then the continents moved apart from an original super continent and separated one from another, but are the same continents, made of lighter rock that floats on molten heavier rock. For almost a billion years it was too hot and battered to support life. “But by around 3.8 billion years ago, heat flow had evidently diminished to a level about four times greater than that at present … .” {Life’s Origin, edited by J. W. Schopf, 2002, Schwartz and Chang, “From Big Bang to Primordial Planet,” p. 65} Here is the problem:

By measuring the amount of sediment deposited on the bottoms of the oceans, and the rate at which the earth’s rivers are dumping sediment into the ocean today, it has been determined that all the sediment on the bottoms of the oceans could have been dumped there by the earth’s rivers at the present rate in just 15 million years if there were no other source, just the sediments that are being washed off of the continents. Naturally the huge currents of the Biblical flood would have greatly speeded up the erosion and redeposition process, but even without the flood, if earth is really 4.5 billion years old, it should have built up far more than 15 million years of sediment in its oceans.

This is a huge problem to old earth geologists. In an attempt to solve it, many of them claim that deposition in the past averaged only one hundredth of the speed of deposition today, and the farther back one goes, the slower it was. At one hundredth the speed of today, to cover a six or eight inch skull would not have taken the thousand years uniformitarianists claimed it takes, but 100,000 years.

There is a much more serious problem, however. When the earth had cooled enough to have a solid crust but was still quite hot, like Io is now, old earth geologists tell us that deposition on earth was at its slowest speed ever. There was very little volcanism and very little mountain building with the result that there was very little erosion, causing the rate of deposition to be so slow as to have been almost non existent.

Most people have never thought through these things. If they did, they too would have to choose between believing:

Radiometric dates are correct. In that case the earth really is very old, but billions of years ago when it was very hot, it was incredibly inactive. If radiometric dates are accurate, as you go back in time, sediment accumulated at an ever slower rate. Then, after the earth had cooled off, more volcanoes erupted with greater violence, and mountains were pushed up ever more rapidly. More mountain building leads to more erosion so that sediments are now being laid down in the sea at higher rates than ever before.

If we are to believe this made up little story, the normal laws of physics work backwards. The colder earth gets, the hotter it acts.

The other possibility is:

Radiometric dates are faulty. The earth, like any place else follows the laws of physics. Therefore, if in the past earth were much hotter, volcanoes, mountain building, erosion, and deposition must have been more rapid then they are now, not slower. The problem is not that earth violated the laws of physics, but that the dates are not correct.

Attempts to solve the mystery of the missing sediments

Moving plates ate the evidence:

Naturally attempts have been made to resolve the problem of why there are no more sediments than could accumulate in 15 million years at today’s rates if the continents came up from 2.5 to 3.5 billion years ago. Some say that sediment really has been accumulating for billions of years, but that as the plates were moving the continents around, most of the sediment on the bottom of the ocean plunged into the molten interior of the earth and was lost (subducted).

This view has serious problems:

Those who believe it generally reject the suggestion that the movement of the plates was much more rapid in the past, and believe that plate movement, though perhaps not always as slow as today, has always been very slow. The slower the plates move, the less material is subducted.

Most of the sediment which would otherwise go under with the plates is actually scraped off instead.

As a plate moves in the ocean, material is only subducted on the side toward which it is moving. On the other side of each plate nothing is being subducted. Some ocean bottom sediments have been found that were dated at 2.5 billion years. If these dates were right, at least those places were not subducted and should have had very deep layers of sediment.

As the sediments wash off of the continents and are dumped into the oceans by the rivers, the great majority of the sediments settle out close to shore. The movement of the plates is away from the middle of the oceans which are getting wider, and toward the continents. The oceanic plates, however, dive under the continental plates at a distance which probably averages hundreds of miles off shore. Not much sediment would stay in suspension long enough to be deposited out past this distance where it would have a chance of being subducted. The rest should still be there.

Because of the problems involved in explaining away the huge discrepancy in the amount of sediment that is actually on the bottom of the ocean and the amount there should be if it has been piling up for billions of years, some try a different solution:

Inflate the 15 million years

Some geologists try to increase the 15 million figure by as much as possible. The longest accumulation time I have heard suggested, however, is still only 85 million years, and this is just for the sediments where the Mississippi dumps into the Gulf of Mexico.

Agriculture increases erosion

Others suggest that the 15 million years at today’s rates should be adjusted to 35 or 40 million years because today’s rates of erosion and deposition are faster than would have been the case before around 6000 years ago when agriculture began to destroy some of the plants that had been holding the soil.

This argument cuts both ways. Evolutionists believe that the first real land plants evolved about 400 million years ago. This would mean that the vegetation that now protects the earth from erosion has existed for less than 400 million of the 2.5 to 3.5 billion years they think the continents have been around. If erosion has been speeded up for the last 6000 years because farming has taken off some of the vegetation, it would also have been speeded up for the first two and a half billion years or so when old earth people believe that the earth was bare because vegetation had not yet evolved!

Some of the sediment was redeposited on the continents

Some old earth geologists try to alleviate the problem by saying that some of the sediment which eroded from the continents was deposited again before it got off of the continents. This is true, but the rate of deposition in the ocean is calculated on a basis of the sediments which rivers really are dumping into the ocean, and does not include sediments which don’t get to the ocean.

Ideas like these which might gain a few years are of little help. At least 2.5 billion years of sediments need to be found or explained away. None of these suggested solutions come even close.

Was Deposition Faster?

Most volcanic ash is not counted

Mount St. Helens, a volcano in the Cascade Mountain range exploded in 1980 and sent a plume of ash so high into the air that it went all the way around the world. Since most of the earth’s surface is ocean, much of this ash fell directly into the ocean, and was not counted among the sediments that enter the oceans through streams. The same is true of all the eruptions of the past.

The prevailing winds that carry off ash that blows into the atmosphere from the Cascades blow from west to east. Driving through the cuts made for the highways east of the Cascades, we see many whitish gray strata of ash, some of them quite thick. Many of them represent big eruptions that threw much ash high into the air to circle the globe before dropping into the oceans. This ash does not pass through the rivers whose loads were measured. Sediment that is not counted in the 15 million years shortens the time it takes to build up the amount of sediments in the ocean.

The earth’s volcanoes are now throwing out around four cubic kilometers of material a year. If they had always thrown it out at today’s rate, which must be slower than when the earth was hot, volcanoes would have dumped a layer 19 kilometer’s thick over the whole surface of the earth in just the last 2.5 billion years. {Ariel. Roth, Origins, 1998, p. 267-268}. If volcanoes had been spewing ash into the oceans for 3.5 or even just 2.5 billion years, we should still see it piled high in the air above the level of the ocean in the places which never had any subduction. Ok, it would erode down, but you get the idea. It is not there, so either there was very little volcanic action in the past when the earth should have been hotter and more active, or the time in which it has been accumulating was much shorter. Radiometric dates lead to impossible conclusions.

Dissolved material is not counted

Particles of sediment can be measured as rivers dump them into the ocean, but some continental material is completely dissolved. {Ritter, D. F., R. C. Kochel and J. R. Miller, 1994, Process Geomorphology, 3rd ed., McGraw-Hill, p. 188-189} Many areas have “hard” water which leaves deposits in kettles and steam irons. In other localities iron, or other dissolved minerals are present in the water. When conditions are right dissolved minerals petrify wood, fossilize bone, and cement sediments together. Ocean water is constantly evaporating, so after dissolved materials arrive in the ocean, they become more and more concentrated until conditions are right for them to precipitate out of solution. Much of this material is hard to measure and may not be deposited in the same places as the granular sediments. Under the right conditions, dissolved minerals may precipitate out very rapidly, so rock does not have to take long to form, as witnessed by the fact that clocks, bottles, and what not are sometimes found cemented into the rock around wrecked ships.

The problem

I told you about the display at Portland’s Museum of Science and Industry with the taped presentation that taught that a body would lie for 1000 years while being gradually covered, a grain or so of dirt at a time, and that unless a body is buried rapidly it gets eaten and does not fossilize. I also mentioned that there is not enough sediment on the ocean bottom to go with the radiometric dates, so some old earth geologists say that deposition in the past averaged only one hundredth of the speed of deposition today, and that in this case, to cover a six or eight inch skull would have taken 100,000 years.

The geologic column was a philosophic idea. The strata containing simpler fossils were believed to be laid down first, a bit more complex next, etc. All of the strata had never been found all together in one place in the right order. Recently, however, a geologist has claimed to have found the whole column from the Cambrian to the present in the Williston Basin of western North Dakota, and that it is 15,000 feet thick. {email from an old earth geologist} If this is true, it would have taken 18,000 years to cover a fossil half a foot thick.

Using radiometric dates, I can find no way to come out with a reasonable figure for the time it would take to cover a fossil. There would be no fossils.

Here It Is in a Nut Shell:

At the rate that the world’s rivers are depositing sediments in the ocean, all the sediments on the ocean bottom would have built up in only 15 million years. If the earth is really billions of years old it should have much more sediment. In the past when old earth geologists believed the earth was much hotter, mountain building, erosion and deposition should have taken place much more rapidly. However, to square their idea of the age of the earth to the amount of sediments which have piled up, old age geologists have been forced into the position that the farther back one goes the slower the rate of deposition.

The small amount of sediment on the ocean bottoms is evidence that the earth is far to young for evolution to have made cells into sailors.

The Continents Are Eroding Away

The rate at which the continents are eroding away has been measured and calculated. In the U. S. the generally accepted figure is 6.1 centimeters (2.44 inches) per thousand years. The average height of the continents is 623 meters above sea level. Therefore, if all of the continents are eroding at about the same rate, they would erode down to sea level in 10.2 million years. {Email from geologist Art Chadwick (who also has a doctor’s degree in biology). Art cites S. Judson, and D. F. Ritter (the geologists who established the presently accepted rate), “Rates of Regional Denudation in the United States,” Journal of Geophysical Research, 69, 1964, 3395, p. 3401. See also, S. Judson,. Erosion of the Land — or what's happening to our continent? American Scientist, 56, 1968, p 356-374} Chadwick states: “The estimate of 10 Million years given above has been a well-accepted figure (Schumm 1963) and has subsequently been referred to in a number of publications including Dott and Batten (1971, p. 136)”

Proponents of an old earth believe that in spite of the fact that at the measured rates at which sediments from the continents are now being dumped into the ocean, these same continents have been wearing down for 2.5 to 3.5 billion years. That is a far cry from the 10 million years it would take to erode the continents down to sea level. If the old earthers are right, at the measured rate, the continents would have eroded down to sea level 100 times every billion years. and the continents have been lifting up and wearing down for billions of years. If this were really true, there should be a tremendous amount of sediment in the ocean.

If the continents have been eroding for billions of years, why did they leave so little sediment , and why are they still here?

Let’s examine the possible explanations:

First, though the continents are eroding, perhaps they still exist because they were being uplifted at about the same rate that they were being eroded.

Problems with this possibility:

Four billion years of uplift and erosion should have left hundreds of times the small amount of sediment that has been deposited on the bottom of the oceans.

If the continents would have eroded away in 10.2 million years, but were still here because they had been uplifted as fast as they were being eroded, there should be few rocks left that date older than 10.2 million years. Instead, radiometric dates for most of the earth’s geologic column are much older than that. Even though mountains erode much faster than lowland, old earth geologists believe that the Appalachian Mountains are around 250 million years old. In that length of time, they should have eroded down to sea level many times. {Ariel A. Roth, Origins, 1998, p. 263-264} If new rock were forming and pushing the mountains up, they should not give old dates.

The rocks that cap the rocky mountains and the Colorado Plateau are thought by old earth geologists to be 100 my old and not to have been under water since being thrust up 70 my ago. The rocks thought to be on the surface at the time of the uplift are still on the surface with little sign of erosion. However, he states that at present erosion rates, all continents would be reduced to sea level in 14 my. {John Morris, The Young Earth, p. 88-90 cites: Judson, Erosion of the Land, American Scientist, vol. 56, p 356-374) Based on these figures, Morris feels that the uniformitarian position lacks internal consistency.

A second possibility is chosen by many old earth geologists: Recent erosion is rapid, but past erosion was so slow as to be almost non existent. In addition to the earth having been hotter and more active in the past, erosion from the ocean waves around the perimeter which we will discuss in a moment would still have destroyed the continents.

Perhaps the continents have left little sediment in the ocean and are still here because they are recent. They have not really been here for the billions of years that are claimed.

The last of these three possibilities seems most likely to me. Here’s another good reason:

Erosion by Ocean Waves

In addition to erosion of the surfaces of the continents by wind, rain and rivers, the ocean waves are hurling water, sand and rocks against the coastline 24 hours a day. Where there are beaches, much of the force of the waves is absorbed by the sand, but headlands which jut out into the ocean are hit by the full force of the waves which undercut the cliffs and dislodge rocks from above.

How hard can waves hit? “At the lighthouse at Tillamook, Oregon, waves tossed a 61-kilogram (130-pound) boulder over the light; the rock crashed through the keeper's roof, 40 meters (130 feet) above sea level”. {email from Art Chadwick} After such rocks are dislodged from the cliffs, the waves keep on hurling them against the coastline which gradually retreats under the onslaught.

At the Eastern side of the continent, the landmark lighthouse at Cape Hatteras, built more than 1500 meters (5000 feet) inland in 1879: “...reopened Friday in a maritime forest set 1,600 feet from the ocean surf that had threatened to topple it, requiring that it be moved last year.” {The Oregonian, May 27, 2000, p. A2}

At this particular point the sea has been moving in at a rate of a mile in 150 years, (once around the earth in less than four million years). This is much faster than the ten million year figure which is usually cited as the time it would take at to erode the surface of the continent down to sea level. Other points along the coast are eroding much less rapidly, and others are probably being uplifted, so while the rate of erosion at the light house can not be applied everywhere, the ocean is eroding the continents away from around the edges.

Old Mountains

Our study of conflicting viewpoints that are believed at the same time by the same people would not be complete without considering the old mountains. The Appalachians in the eastern United States will serve as an example. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, they were formed “...from about 290 million to 245 million years ago” {“Alleghenian orogeny,” Britannica CD 98). Because of their commitment to their belief in an old earth, some people are able to believe this and at the same time know that at today’s rate, the entire American continent would erode down to sea level in 10.2 million years. Since I don’t have that commitment, the two beliefs seem contradictory to me. In 245 million years the continent should have worn down to sea level 24 times. If they still exist because they have been uplifted, many times more sediment would have been carried off into the oceans than is out there, and no old fossils should be found in the mountains.

Flat Plains

On every continent, but particularly Africa and Australia, are found flat or slightly sloped plains, often hundreds of miles across, where the rock has been ground down flat. Their cause is a mystery. One old earth geologist said they must have been caused by glaciers in the ice age, but it is not generally believed that there have been glaciers in Africa for hundreds of millions of years. With the continents rapidly eroding down to sea level ten times in every hundred million years, why are these surfaces still flat?

Erosion is beginning to carve out some small canyons now, but for the most part these plains are amazingly flat and give evidence of having been formed recently even though many of them are found high above sea level where erosion is more rapid.

Old earth geologists have dated these plains both by radiometric dating and by the fossils they contain. Because of this, in spite of their young appearance, they consider the age of most of these flat surfaces to be in the millions of years, and even date some of them at over a hundred million years. {Michael J. Oard, “Antiquity of Landforms: Objective Evidence that Dating Methods Are Wrong,” CEN Technical Journal, 14, 1, 2000, p. 35-39. See also C. R. Twidale, “Antiquity of Landforms, an Extremely Unlikely Concept Vindicated,” Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, 45, 1998 p. 657-668}.

While it would take a good deal of time to erode the top layer of some of these landforms because it is fairly hard rock, others are capped with soft, easily erodible rock. Surface runoff and river erosion do not retain a flat surface, but dig canyons and valleys.

In many cases, these flat plains are covered by rocks, gravel and quartzite boulders which seem to have come from sources hundreds of miles away. These rocks have been rounded, evidence that they were transported by water. Streams could hardly have carried these rocks, some of which are quite large, without making canyons and valleys. The evidence seems to indicate that these rocks were transported by a great flood.

The flood interpretation is reinforced by the fact that many similar rounded quartzite rocks are also found lying on top of other kinds of surfaces, even high in the mountains.

Those who place radiometric and fossil dating above any other evidence claim that great level plains and high plateaus have existed for periods ranging from a few million to 160 million years, Why are they still flat?

The problems of unbelievably little erosion of both the plains and the old mountains, and of not enough sediment on the ocean bottoms are all solved by accepting a recent creation. We are told that priests have evolved from protons because the time was so unimaginably long. As we examine the evidence more closely, the huge periods of time that are claimed to have made evolution our creator evaporate away. The idea that God, created recently in a short time, would solve a lot of problems.


Deltas provide a practical illustration of how the old earth dating system does not fit the facts of nature. At present rates at which sediments are deposited, if the continents have really existed for the long geologic ages of the old earth theory, many deltas should already have wound themselves all the way around the world time after time!

The Yangtse river in China, for example, adds around a mile of delta every 80 years, but the Yangtse delta is now less than 500 miles long. If the evolutionary dates are correct, just since the time of the last dinosaurs it should have grown to around 875,000 miles long. Since one lap all the way around the world is less than 25,000 miles, this delta shouts out: “The time which has really been available to evolution is far too short for it to have changed a germ into a geologist!”

The Mississippi enters the Gulf of Mexico about 100 miles downstream from New Orleans, through a 10,000 square mile delta. Because almost 500 million tons of sediment are deposited annually, the delta extends about 300 feet each year.” {“Mississippi River” Grolier Interactive Encyclopedia, 1998, using the US measurements, rounded off}.

Since fast ocean currents often wash sediment away, a higher sea level in the past could have washed older Mississippi sediments away. But according to old earth research, sea level has not been higher for any significant period in the last 20 million years.

As sediments build up, rivers change channels from time to time, moving their deltas to one side or the other. This spreads the sediment out over a wider area than the part of the delta which is building up at any one time. If the Mississippi delta had always built up at a rate of 300 feet a year, in 20 million years, it would have added over a million miles. That’s the distance of 1000 strips of delta all the way across the Gulf of Mexico, or one strip around the world 40 times.

Even if the ocean had extended clear up to the border with Canada 20 million years ago, and the Mississippi delta had filled in from there, that’s only a thousand miles. Remember, in 20 million years at today’s rate of speed it would have covered that distance a thousand times. I admit, deltas do take longer to build up as they get into deeper water farther from shore, but, if radiometric dates are right, the Mississippi has been dumping sediment in the gulf not just for 20 million years, but for at least two and a half billion years!

Obviously, the Mississippi need not always have built up its delta at its current speed. There may have been geological ups and downs, but no matter how they spin it, the fact is, the Mississippi delta and the old earth dating system don’t go well together. Either the dates are much too long, or the delta is much too short!

To try to solve the problem of too little sediment, some old earth geologists have suggested that the weight of the sediment being added pushes down the sediment already there, thus slowing delta building almost to a halt. Obviously no theory like this one that explains why a delta can’t grow is valid for a delta like this that is in fact growing. Because of this, I only mention deltas whose growth rate has been checked, and which are growing too fast to be explained by old earth dates.

The Tigris-Euphrates

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the city of Ur on the delta of the Tigris-Euphrates rivers was on the coast of the Persian Gulf in the year 3,500 BC. In the ensuing 5,500 years the delta built up so much that the ancient city is now 200 miles inland. If delta building didn’t take longer as deltas extend out to deeper water, that rate of build up would take it once around the world in less than 700,000 years.

The Po on the east side of Italy is another large river for which historical and archeological records are available. It has built up most of its delta in a few thousand years. {Harold Coffin, Origin by Design, 1983, p. 335} The Po empties into the Italian side of the Adriatic sea, a body of water about 500 miles long, 100 miles wide, and relatively shallow. The Po enters the Adriatic around 30 miles from its closed north end, near the gulf of Venice. At that point, the Adriatic is less than 60 miles wide. This makes the delta of the Po very significant, because if there were earlier sediments, they would be harder to hide here than if they had poured into a deep ocean with strong currents that might more easily carry them away.

Since 1000 BC, 16 miles of delta have built up. That appears to be almost all of the existing delta because according to historic records the 1000 BC coastline was relatively straight instead of bulging out at the delta. Measuring from the 1000 BC coast line, in 3000 years the delta has gone 1/4 of the way across the Adriatic. If the present is the key to the past, had the delta had 12,000 years in which to build up, it would have made it all the way across the Adriatic from the Italian to the Slovakian shore.

Let’s project this back into the past. Evolutionists say that evolution had three and a half to four billion years to work, and that in that much time it succeeded in producing its masterpiece, YOU! This delta is moving at a rate that would completely cross the Adriatic around 83 times in each million years. No one really knows how long the Po has been dumping sediment, but at its average rate for the last 3000 years, in four billion years it would have deposited over 150,000 laps of sediment all the way around the world.

If you believe in an earth history of billions of years, you hold that position by faith, and whether you know it or not, that faith is mostly based on radiometric dates, and is contradicted, as we have seen, by many other facts. Deltas provide another measurable way of determining age. Glance at the mouths of rivers in a world atlas. Notice that some rivers have significant deltas and some don’t. Of those which do, I could not locate one delta that could be explained on a basis of old earth geology. It was as if a huge Biblical flood had erased them clean at some time from around three to five thousand years ago and they all started out fresh at that time. In fact, one old earth geologist admitted to me that all the earth’s Deltas could be accounted for in 7000 years.

Water Gaps

Rivers frequently have cut right through mountains, even high mountains, instead of flowing around them as gravity would seem to dictate. These cuts called water gaps are found around the world. They would be easily explained if the whole mountain were covered by flowing water. In the spots where the rock was softer, split, etc. it would tend to erode more rapidly than in the harder places. As the flood receded and was no longer able to pour over the whole mountain, huge amounts of water would be channeled through the gap.

The theory of those who do not believe in a flood that covered mountains is that the land under the river rose so gradually that the river was able to erode through it. If it rose more rapidly, or in jerks, the mountain would dam up the river which would then flow around the mountain instead of cutting through it.

The mountain covering flood explanation seems the more natural explanation for many of the water gaps.

So What?

In less than a half century the foundations of modern geology have moved almost as far as the continents: Uniformitarianism is out. moving continents and fairly big floods are in. In fact most geologists today have moved so far as to believe that a flood probably did cover a whole planet. No, not our planet, Mars!

The geologists who lived through the whole period of transformation in geological thinking are, for the most part, just as sure they understand things correctly now, as they were before, when they held the opposite opinions. Nevertheless, they often tell me that since I believe the Bible I have presuppositions that keep me from understanding science while they are objective and only follow the evidence.

We need not be carried away by scientific sounding condemnations of the Bible in the points in which today’s geology differs with it. My critics are right. I don’t know where all the water for the flood came from. Some came from rain. If earth had been hit by a flock of comets, that might account for some of it. “… the number of comets required to deliver an amount of water sufficient to fill all the oceans on earth is around one thousand….” {Iris Fry, The Emergence of Life on Earth, 2000, p. 115, referring to T. Owen and A. Bar-Nun, Comets, Impacts, and Atmospheres, 1995, p. 228}

Perhaps most of the water came from what Genesis 7:11 calls the breaking up of the fountains of the great deep. John Mackay, a creationist, reports: “Japanese scientists have studied the chemical composition of minerals believed to make up the lower mantle of the earth and found they contained enough water to fill the earth's oceans five times over. The lower mantle is layer between 650 and 2,900 km below the earth's surface. Geologists believe there are also several oceans worth of water in the transition zone between the lower and upper mantle.” {John Mackay’s News Update 17th April 2002 referring to a report in Nature Science Update ( 8 March 2002}. The strongly evolutionist publication, Discover, responding to a reader’s question says: “Michael Drake, director of the university of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson, answers: ‘Not only does Earth have a lot of visible water—oceans cover 70 percent of the surface—but another 10 oceans’worth of water may be entombed deep inside.’” {Discover, July 2004, p. 16}

I readily admit that I don’t have the answers to all the problems on the creationist side, but remember, the majority position among geologists today includes believing with the left brain that the old mountains and even some very flat plains have been standing in pretty much their present positions for hundreds of millions of years without developing the canyons and other erosion features one would expect, while at the same time the right brain knows that continuing at the present rate, our present continents will erode down to sea level in 10.2 million years. Most Geologists were convinced by uniformitarianism that the Biblical flood could not have happened and deposition was very slow. These same geologists now admit that uniformitarianism was wrong. Big floods and rapid deposition did happen, just planet covering floods are impossible, except perhaps on Mars.

The statements that the Bible makes about the earth, on the other hand, do not change. If the Bible had been in agreement with the geologists who did not accept big floods and plate tectonics, it would not be in agreement with even these same old earth geologists who have changed their minds, and now believe that continents move and that some huge floods, the Missoula flood for example, have rapidly eroded and redeposited large amounts of sediment. The Scriptures will probably never agree perfectly with the majority opinion of geologists at any particular moment, but don’t condemn the Bible for that. This generation of geologists does not agree with the last generation of geologists either.

Uniformitarianism’s insistence that sediments were laid down very slowly were an attack on the Biblical flood. For overkill it rejected all big floods. It was wrong. Many today are just as sure that the Biblical Flood did not happen as the uniformitarian geologists were that no big floods happened. They know this by faith, even though the flood left a lot of evidence that they can’t account for. Some have faith that there was no way that earth could have gotten that much water. Perhaps others believe that the Biblical flood could not have happened just because they oppose the Bible which says it did.

This is just one of a long series of attacks on the Bible. As well as being the most loved book in the world, is also the most hated. In addition to intellectual of attacks, thousands of times more copies of the Bible have been physically burned, torn up, and destroyed in other ways than any other book. Yet, in spite of attacks of all kinds, the Bible remains the all time best seller. One reason for this is because throughout history it has been vindicated and the attackers shown to be wrong time after time.

The attack by uniformitarian geology laid the foundation for a very old age for the earth and inspired Darwin with unimaginably long ages in which he thought evolution could take place. But uniformitarianism was wrong! Rather than being considered a theory to test carefully, it had been rapidly accepted as a truth into which, at all costs, the evidence must be crammed. Most geologists today accept the fact that it was wrong. They even give me, a creationist an occasional friendly jab for following uniformitarianism when I insist that something or other in the past would have worked somewhat like things do today.

Most geologists still accept the doctrines of evolution and an old earth, which were based on uniformitarianism, but now they admit that the sediments were laid down much more rapidly than uniformitarianism admitted, and search for slots between the strata in which to tuck the billions of years that are left over.

Apart from the long ages given by some radiometric dates, as I see it, most evidence does not fit a really old earth. Even while old earth geologists believe that billions of years went by, now hidden between layers of strata, they know that at present rates of erosion, our whole continent would be worn down to sea level in 10.2 million years, and that all the sediment on the ocean floor would build up in around 15 million years. The attacks don’t quit when the Bible is vindicated in some point, they shift.

While I personally can’t agree with the old earth presuppositions which underlie the theory of evolution, I must admit that many old earth geologists have a great faith. Their belief that the earth is very old overcomes tremendous scientific obstacles. Many of you believe you exist because evolution had huge periods of time in which to make men out of molecules. My prayer is that you will shift your faith to the Savior who has the power both to create and to save rapidly. He said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

I like the advice of Paul Abramson, the editor of, “Decide where you want to be in 100 years, and aim for it.” Heaven or Hell? Is it really that tough a choice?

Sure it takes faith! You have to believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior, that He died for your sins and rose again. “ For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). When you think of some of the things old earth people have faith in, that’s not hard at all. Try it! When you confess your sins to God and trust Jesus Christ to save you from them, his Holy Spirit will guide you into a life of fellowship with Him and His Father. Read your Bible to find out how.

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