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Creationism and the Bible 2

QUESTION: Creationism and the Bible - Creationism is Science


With regards to the framework of biblical presuppositions, many questions will remain. Sometimes it is not possible to find a conclusive exegetical interpretation for a given biblical text. This problem starts at the very first verses of Genesis. Furthermore, the Bible is completely silent about certain issues, or mentions them only indirectly or in vague verbiage. And finally, it is possible that not all events that are relevant to the geological history of the world are mentioned in the Bible.

Therefore the biblical framework of presuppositions about ancient history leave a large amount of "wiggle room" for the formulation of theories and models, such as the mechanics of Noah's flood and the development of life after the flood. For example, we read about the causes of the great flood in Genesis 7:11 when "the fountains of the great deep" were broken up. In observational language: the water spewed forth from the deep with force. This leaves a lot of room for possible scientific theories: is this text talking about submarine volcanoes? Did the sea floor rise? Did sub-oceanic water reservoirs open? What started this natural violence? Or was this nothing but a supernatural intervention by God? To find the answers, the scientist must do the usual fieldwork: examine the evidence (the rocks), formulate theories and hypotheses, and test them as far as this is possible in origins science. This scientific job is a human effort; it is fallible. Theories are formulated, revised, rejected, and replaced by others. And, as we said before, there is nothing wrong with that! This process allows for the development of scientific insights.

But such a theory of course cannot be regarded as the exegetical interpretation of a biblical text, for it is not a biblical explanation, but only (nothing more and nothing less!) a scientific theory. One might wonder: why should we speculate at all about these types of issues, such as the causes of the flood? Does it really matter for our faith? Indeed, this is not necessary for the knowledge we need for our salvation: God's Word tells us everything we need for our salvation. This certain knowledge is sufficient. But this kind of scientific research is nevertheless important in light of our cultural mission to develop the earth and our knowledge thereof. It can also be of apologetic value. A biblical theory can show that evolutionism is not the only explanation for the origin of our world, and that the Bible is in agreement with our observations. It can be an encouragement for Christians. But still, the apologetic value is limited: our faith in the Bible cannot be dependent on our ability to produce acceptable scientific explanations for events that are mentioned in the Bible.

When the boundaries of science are emphatically kept in sight, a number of frequently heard objections against creationism are dealt with. It is not true, for example, that creationists are trying to prove "the Bible is right after all." On the contrary: the truth of the Bible is an assumed starting point. Even when questions remain in a scientific sense, this is an unshakable starting point. Even then the point cannot be made that a faith in the Bible is being shaken if a creationist theory proves to be incorrect. Absolutely not; the revision of scientific theories is very common in the light of new data. This is how science works. But this does not impact the truth of the biblical pre-scientific knowledge.

Creationism and the Bible - The Creationist Approach.
Finally, I would like to explain very concisely how creationists interpret the earth's layers and fossils within a biblical context. These are not just dorm-room theories. They are built upon a large number of geological data and field research.

The deepest fossil bearing layers of the earth are called Paleozoic. All of these are found to have formed in a marine environment. They consist of thick (petrified) beds of gravel, sand, clay, and lime, deposited on the landmasses from the depths of the sea. The fossils found in these layers are exclusively marine creatures. Geologists tell us that all continents were covered with ocean water at the time. Furthermore, a large amount of data indicates that these layers were formed under catastrophic conditions and therefore were deposited with great force and at high velocities. For these reasons, creationists attribute the formation of the Paleozoic layers to the great flood.

In and just below the Paleozoic rocks many traces are found of meteorite impacts. This suggests cosmic impacts at the beginning of Noah's flood, rupturing the ocean floor, and separating the landmasses. Towering flood waves were unleashed ("the fountains of the great deep were broken up" Genesis 7:11) which swept away everything in their path with an unbridled force. All the pre-flood land creatures disappeared "in the depths of the earth"; the graben and reefs of the separated continents.

The earth's layers above the Paleozoic are called Mesozoic. These layers show clear signs of a drying earth. According to geologists, this indicates the ocean levels were at their lowest point ever, while vast interior lakes existed on the continents: remnants of the flood waters. Also, on every continent we find sand dunes, formed by wind, called "redbeds." These redbeds are red because of the iron oxide (rust) in their mineral structure, which originated from the iron contained in ocean water and started to rust after being exposed to the air. There are almost no fossils to be found in these redbeds at all, which makes sense because the land animals had perished during the flood. In the higher layers of the Mesozoic we find dinosaur fossils -- not just bones, but also tracks and nests, including eggs and hatched younglings.

These dinosaurs used to live in swampy areas close to the oceans and interior lakes, which were very special habitats: during the flood hot magma filled the ruptured ocean floors and kept the oceans very hot and unstable for quite some time after the flood, repeatedly causing new floods which in turn resulted in new earth layers with new fossils. The dinosaurs lived in these tropical zones. Because of the warm climate, and other circumstances, they were able to reproduce rapidly, but their habitat was flooded repeatedly. This is the reason we often find multiple layers with dinosaur nests in the same location. It is striking that the oldest dinosaurs were exclusively vegetarians and scavengers. This may suggest that before and shortly after the flood there were no large, aggressive predators.1 It is also known that all dinosaur fossils can be classified in five distinctive family groups which are completely unrelated to one another. These groups are considered to be "baramins," distinctly created base kinds of animals. The dinosaur fossils also show that within these five groups an enormous variation occurred after the flood in terms of anatomical structures and food preferences.2

There are sufficient indications that people walked with dinosaurs after the flood. All over the world depictions are found of dragons, bearing a close resemblance to dinosaurs. In the Bible, in Job 40, a description of Behemoth is given. The word is often translated with "hippopotamus," but this seems impossible because a hippo does not "move his tail like a cedar" as the text explains. The description seems to be a much better fit for certain dinosaur species, such as the vegetarian Diplodocus.

But if people did indeed walk with dinosaurs after the flood, then why don't we ever find dinosaur fossils together with remains of people and mammals? There is a reason. The swamplands inhabited by the dinosaurs were inhabitable for humans and mammals. The climate was too warm and the vegetation consisted of poisonous plants and herbs. Besides, the Bible tells us that the people initially stayed together in Babel. But even after their dispersion from Babel, they would have avoided these hot, inhospitable, regularly flooded areas.

In the higher layers of the Mesozoic we see the dinosaurs slowly disappear and go extinct. Their territory was destroyed gradually by the repeated flooding and the cooling down of the ocean water. The cooler oceans stabilized and from this time on the lowlands proved to be excellent habitats for humans and mammals. The dinosaurs were disappearing from the stage, the climate was improving and new vegetation (non-poisonous grass and flowering plants) was developing. This set of circumstances explains why we don't find any human or mammal fossils below the highest layers of the geological column.3

Creationism and the Bible - Final Conclusion.
The current scientific theories for the age of the earth and evolution are often presented as proven facts. But instead evolutionism proves to be built on an entire network of assumptions and presuppositions. The theory is far from proven, highly speculative and laden with atheist prejudice.

Opposite the mainstream scientific theories of origins stands the faith in the historic reliability of the biblical revelation about the creation of this world. The Bible tells us that this earth was created and made habitable in six "ordinary" solar days. It also speaks of a relatively short history of the earth. This biblical presupposition creates a challenge; the challenge to discover a harmony between the biblical data and the hard scientific facts about the history of the earth.

Considerable progress has been made by creation scientists in the past few decades in formulating testable alternative models. We can only hope that young Christian scientists will follow in their footsteps in the future, but moreover that the public at large will become more familiar with the new creationist insights. These insights clearly show there is no discrepancy between the hard scientific facts about ancient history and the biblical data, and that there is a Biblically based alternative for the theory of evolution and the concept of an earth crust that is millions of years old.

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[1] See the second article in this series: Creationism and the Fall
[2] See the description of "differential gene expression" in the third article in this series: Creationism and Science.
[3] Hoogerduijn, H. en J.R. de Wit Azn; Zoeken naar de zondvloed (In Search of the Flood). This book (in Dutch) provides an exhaustive list of references.

This article is also available in Spanish.

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