This selection of articles containing evidences for a young earth are from The Institute for Creation Research website at www.irc.org.
Spiral galaxy NGC 1232 in constellation Eridanus. Photo: European Southern Observatory
Here are fourteen natural phenomena which conflict with the evolutionary idea that the universe is billions of years old. The numbers listed below in bold print (usually in the millions of years) are often maximum possible ages set by each process, not the actual ages. The numbers in italics are the ages required by evolutionary theory for each item. The point is that the maximum possible ages are always much less than the required evolutionary ages, while the Biblical age (6,000 years) always fits comfortably within the maximum possible ages. Thus, the following items are evidence against the evolutionary time scale and for the Biblical time scale. Much more young-world evidence exists, but I have chosen these items for brevity and simplicity. Some of the items on this list can be reconciled with the old-age view only by making a series of improbable and unproven assumptions; others can fit in only with a recent creation.1. Galaxies wind themselves up too fast.
The stars of our own galaxy, the Milky Way, rotate about the galactic center with different speeds, the inner ones rotating faster than the outer ones. The observed rotation speeds are so fast that if our galaxy were more than a few hundred million years old, it would be a featureless disc of stars instead of its present spiral shape.1 Yet our galaxy is supposed to be at least 10 billion years old. Evolutionists call this "the winding-up dilemma," which they have known about for fifty years. They have devised many theories to try to explain it, each one failing after a brief period of popularity. The same "winding-up" dilemma also applies to other galaxies. For the last few decades the favored attempt to resolve the puzzle has been a complex theory called "density waves."1 The theory has conceptual problems, has to be arbitrarily and very finely tuned, and has been called into serious question by the Hubble Space Telescope's discovery of very detailed spiral structure in the central hub of the "Whirlpool" galaxy, M51.2
2. Too few supernova remnants.
Photo: Courtesy of NASA
According to astronomical observations, galaxies like our own experience about one supernova (a violently-exploding star) every 25 years. The gas and dust remnants from such explosions (like the Crab Nebula) expand outward rapidly and should remain visible for over a million years. Yet the nearby parts of our galaxy in which we could observe such gas and dust shells contain only about 200 supernova remnants. That number is consistent with only about 7,000 years worth of supernovas.33. Comets disintegrate too quickly.
According to evolutionary theory, comets are supposed to be the same age as the solar system, about five billion years. Yet each time a comet orbits close to the sun, it loses so much of its material that it could not survive much longer than about 100,000 years. Many comets have typical ages of less than 10,000 years.4 Evolutionists explain this discrepancy by assuming that (a) comets come from an unobserved spherical "Oort cloud" well beyond the orbit of Pluto, (b) improbable gravitational interactions with infrequently passing stars often knock comets into the solar system, and (c) other improbable interactions with planets slow down the incoming comets often enough to account for the hundreds of comets observed.5 So far, none of these assumptions has been substantiated either by observations or realistic calculations. Lately, there has been much talk of the "Kuiper Belt," a disc of supposed comet sources lying in the plane of the solar system just outside the orbit of Pluto. Some asteroid-sized bodies of ice exist in that location, but they do not solve the evolutionists' problem, since according to evolutionary theory, the Kuiper Belt would quickly become exhausted if there were no Oort cloud to supply it.4. Not enough mud on the sea floor.
|Rivers and dust storms dump mud into the sea much faster than plate tectonic sub-duction can remove it.|
Each year, water and winds erode about 20 billion tons of dirt and rock from the continents and deposit it in the ocean.6 This material accumulates as loose sediment on the hard basaltic (lava-formed) rock of the ocean floor. The average depth of all the sediment in the whole ocean is less than 400 meters.7 The main way known to remove the sediment from the ocean floor is by plate tectonic subduction. That is, sea floor slides slowly (a few cm/year) beneath the continents, taking some sediment with it. According to secular scientific literature, that process presently removes only 1 billion tons per year.7 As far as anyone knows, the other 19 billion tons per year simply accumulate. At that rate, erosion would deposit the present mass of sediment in less than 12 million years. Yet according to evolutionary theory, erosion and plate subduction have been going on as long as the oceans have existed, an alleged three billion years. If that were so, the rates above imply that the oceans would be massively choked with sediment dozens of kilometers deep. An alternative (creationist) explanation is that erosion from the waters of the Genesis flood running off the continents deposited the present amount of sediment within a short time about 5,000 years ago.5. Not enough sodium in the sea.
Every year, rivers8 and other sources9 dump over 450 million tons of sodium into the ocean. Only 27% of this sodium manages to get back out of the sea each year.9,10 As far as anyone knows, the remainder simply accumulates in the ocean. If the sea had no sodium to start with, it would have accumulated its present amount in less than 42 million years at today's input and output rates.10 This is much less than the evolutionary age of the ocean, three billion years. The usual reply to this discrepancy is that past sodium inputs must have been less and outputs greater. However, calculations that are as generous as possible to evolutionary scenarios still give a maximum age of only 62 million years.10 Calculations11 for many other seawater elements give much younger ages for the ocean.6. The earth's magnetic field is decaying too fast.
|Electrical resistance in the earth's core wears down the electrical current which produces the earth's magnetic field. That causes the field to lose energy rapidly.|
The total energy stored in the earth's magnetic field ("dipole" and "non-dipole") is decreasing with a half-life of 1,465 (� 165) years.12 Evolutionary theories explaining this rapid decrease, as well as how the earth could have maintained its magnetic field for billions of years are very complex and inadequate. A much better creationist theory exists. It is straightforward, based on sound physics, and explains many features of the field: its creation, rapid reversals during the Genesis flood, surface intensity decreases and increases until the time of Christ, and a steady decay since then.13 This theory matches paleomagnetic, historic, and present data, most startlingly with evidence for rapid changes.14 The main result is that the field's total energy (not surface intensity) has always decayed at least as fast as now. At that rate the field could not be more than 20,000 years old.157. Many strata are too tightly bent.
In many mountainous areas, strata thousands of feet thick are bent and folded into hairpin shapes. The conventional geologic time scale says these formations were deeply buried and solidified for hundreds of millions of years before they were bent. Yet the folding occurred without cracking, with radii so small that the entire formation had to be still wet and unsolidified when the bending occurred. This implies that the folding occurred less than thousands of years after deposition.168. Biological material decays too fast.
Natural radioactivity, mutations, and decay degrade DNA and other biological material rapidly. Measurements of the mutation rate of mitochondrial DNA recently forced researchers to revise the age of "mitochondrial Eve" from a theorized 200,000 years down to possibly as low as 6,000 years.17 DNA experts insist that DNA cannot exist in natural environments longer than 10,000 years, yet intact strands of DNA appear to have been recovered from fossils allegedly much older: Neandertal bones, insects in amber, and even from dinosaur fossils.18 Bacteria allegedly 250 million years old apparently have been revived with no DNA damage.19 Soft tissue and blood cells from a dinosaur have astonished experts.209. Fossil radioactivity shortens geologic "ages" to a few years.
|Radio Halo, Photo: Courtesy of Mark Armitage|
Radiohalos are rings of color formed around microscopic bits of radioactive minerals in rock crystals. They are fossil evidence of radioactive decay.21 "Squashed" Polonium-210 radiohalos indicate that Jurassic, Triassic, and Eocene formations in the Colorado plateau were deposited within months of one another, not hundreds of millions of years apart as required by the conventional time scale.22 "Orphan" Polonium-218 radiohalos, having no evidence of their mother elements, imply accelerated nuclear decay and very rapid formation of associated minerals.23,2410. Too much helium in minerals.
Uranium and thorium generate helium atoms as they decay to lead. A study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research showed that such helium produced in zircon crystals in deep, hot Precambrian granitic rock has not had time to escape.25 Though the rocks contain 1.5 billion years worth of nuclear decay products, newly-measured rates of helium loss from zircon show that the helium has been leaking for only 6,000 (� 2000) years.26 This is not only evidence for the youth of the earth, but also for episodes of greatly accelerated decay rates of long half-life nuclei within thousands of years ago, compressing radioisotope timescales enormously.11. Too much carbon 14 in deep geologic strata.
With their short 5,700-year half-life, no carbon 14 atoms should exist in any carbon older than 250,000 years. Yet it has proven impossible to find any natural source of carbon below Pleistocene (Ice Age) strata that does not contain significant amounts of carbon 14, even though such strata are supposed to be millions or billions of years old. Conventional carbon 14 laboratories have been aware of this anomaly since the early 1980s, have striven to eliminate it, and are unable to account for it. Lately the world's best such laboratory which has learned during two decades of low-C14 measurements how not to contaminate specimens externally, under contract to creationists, confirmed such observations for coal samples and even for a dozen diamonds, which cannot be contaminated in situ with recent carbon.27 These constitute very strong evidence that the earth is only thousands, not billions, of years old.12. Not enough Stone Age skeletons.
Evolutionary anthropologists now say that Homo sapiens existed for at least 185,000 years before agriculture began,28 during which time the world population of humans was roughly constant, between one and ten million. All that time they were burying their dead, often with artifacts. By that scenario, they would have buried at least eight billion bodies.29 If the evolutionary time scale is correct, buried bones should be able to last for much longer than 200,000 years, so many of the supposed eight billion stone age skeletons should still be around (and certainly the buried artifacts). Yet only a few thousand have been found. This implies that the Stone Age was much shorter than evolutionists think, perhaps only a few hundred years in many areas.13. Agriculture is too recent.
The usual evolutionary picture has men existing as hunters and gatherers for 185,000 years during the Stone Age before discovering agriculture less than 10,000 years ago.29 Yet the archaeological evidence shows that Stone Age men were as intelligent as we are. It is very improbable that none of the eight billion people mentioned in item 12 should discover that plants grow from seeds. It is more likely that men were without agriculture for a very short time after the Flood, if at all.3114. History is too short.
According to evolutionists, Stone Age Homo sapiens existed for 190,000 years before beginning to make written records about 4,000 to 5,000 years ago. Prehistoric man built megalithic monuments, made beautiful cave paintings, and kept records of lunar phases.30 Why would he wait two thousand centuries before using the same skills to record history? The Biblical time scale is much more likely.31
Additional Resources for items 9-11.
The subject of the age of the earth and the age of the world ocean is a matter of extreme importance. If there is evidence for an old ocean, then this could be used to support the evolutionist's supposition that life arose from primitive, inorganic marine chemicals over a billion years ago. If, however, the world ocean can be shown to be a relatively youthful feature, then the evolutionist would seem to lose his case by default.
Two basic models for the world ocean can be imagined. According to evolutionary-uniformitarian geologists, the earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old. The world ocean is supposed to have formed by outgassing of water by volcanic processes early in the earth's history. By no later than 1 billion years ago, in the popular scheme, the ocean reached its present size and chemical condition, and primitive one-celled life forms had already evolved by chance processes from lifeless chemicals. For a period of at least 1 billion years the ocean has remained at roughly constant salinity while the single-celled creatures evolved into mollusks, fish, reptiles, mammals, and finally man. During this vast period of time the continents have been eroding more or less continuously with debris being steadily deposited as sediments on the ocean floor.
An alternate to the evolutionist's view of the ocean is the creationist's view. According to the creationist, the ocean formed very recently�perhaps only 10,000 years ago. The earth in its original condition was covered with water (Genesis 1:2), but later God formed the ocean basins by gathering the waters together allowing the dry land to appear (Genesis 1:9). The ocean again covered the earth during the universal Flood in the days of Noah, and returned to their present basins following the Flood.
The purpose of this paper is to examine erosion and sedimentation rates to see who has the better model for the world ocean.
The floor of the ocean is blanketed by a layer of poorly consolidated material called sediment. Small rock particles and precipitated chemicals derived from the continents, especially by streams, form the bulk of this sediment. Chemically precipitated calcareous ooze is the most common deep ocean sediment, while continent-derived sand and mud is most common in the shallower ocean and nearer to shore.
Deep sea drilling and seismic surveys have provided much information about the thickness of sediments in the ocean. These data were quite surprising to early oceanographers who, assuming a great age for the ocean, expected a great thickness of sediment. The average thickness of deep ocean sediments is less than 0.40 mile (2100 feet). Greater thicknesses of sediments are encountered on the continental shelves and slopes. The best world average sediment thickness over the entire ocean (shallow and deep) would be about 0.56 mile or 2,950 feet.1 This estimate is generous and would be accepted as approximately correct by most evolutionary uniformitarian geologists.
We can now calculate the volume of ocean sediments simply by multiplying the average thickness (0. 56 mile) by the area of the world ocean (139.4 million square miles).2 The calculation shows that 77 million cubic miles of sediment are present on the ocean floor.
Next, we can estimate the mass of ocean sediments by multiplying the volume of sediments (77 million cubic miles) by the average sediment density (10.7 billion tons/cubic mile = 2.30 grams/cubic centimeter).3 It will be discovered that the mass of ocean sediments is about 820 million billion tons.
The present topographic continents above sea level have a volume of about 30.4 million cubic miles and a mass of about 383 million billion tons. If the present continents were eroded to sea level, about 383 million billion tons of sediment would be deposited on the ocean floor. This mass is a little less than half the mass of sediment present in today's ocean. Stated another way, it would only take the erosion of twice our present continental mass to produce today's mass of ocean sediments!
RATES OF EROSION
Careful study of modern rivers on a world-wide scale shows that vast quantities of rock are being transported to the ocean. Suspended sediment, small rock particles which are carried along by river turbulence, comprise the bulk of sediment added to the ocean. The best estimate from river data suggests that 20.2 billion tons of suspended sediment enter the ocean each year.4
Rivers also carry dissolved chemical substances into the ocean. The chemicals are mostly bicarbonate, silica, and salts which comprise about 4.6 billion tons of sediment added to the ocean each year.5
Glaciers at higher latitudes are presently breaking apart and adding icebergs to the ocean. When the ice melts, the entrapped sediments are deposited on the sea floor. Ice appears to be delivering about 2.2 billion tons of sediment to the ocean each year.6
Although little is known about the migration of fluids at great depths in the earth, water is presently being added to the oceans through the sea floor from the continents and from springs and volcanoes on the sea floor. This water also contains dissolved chemicals. A conservative estimate suggests that 0.47 billion tons of sediment are added to the ocean each year by ground waters.7
The seashore is constantly being worn by waves which deliver sediment to the sea. A good estimate suggests that marine erosion adds 0.28 billion tons of sediment annually.8
Wind-blown dust especially from desert areas and dust from volcanoes finds its way to the sea. About 0.06 billion tons go into the ocean each year.9
Evaporation and wind remove a small amount of salts from the ocean and deposit these on the land. The amount of sediment removed in this salt spray process as aerosols is estimated at 0.29 billion tons each year. 10
Now that we have examined the processes which deliver and remove sediment from the ocean, we are ready to calculate the total amount of sediment going into the world ocean each year. The addition of the previous erosion estimates gives a total sediment input to the ocean of 27.5 billion tons every year. This is an enormous quantity of sediment! Most evolutionary-uniformitarian geologists would admit that this total is approximately correct.
|SEDIMENT TRANSPORTATION PROCESS||AMOUNT OF
(BILLIONS OF TONS PER YEAR)
|Suspended sediment in rivers||+ 20.2|
|Dissolved chemicals in rivers||+ 4.6|
|Ground water||+ 0.47|
|Marine erosion||+ 0.28|
|Wind-blown dust||+ 0.06|
|Salt spray||- 0.29|
|TOTAL SEDIMENT TO OCEAN||+ 27.5 Billion tons per year|
For the sake of illustration, imagine that all of this yearly sediment were loaded into railroad freight cars each having a capacity of 11 tons. We would need 2.5 billion train cars! This is a train which would extend to the moon and back 34 times! If this train were traveling past you at 60 miles per hour, it would take 32 years to pass. The sediment total shows that 80 train cars of sediment per second are being added to the ocean!
How long would it take to deliver the present continents to the ocean if the present rate of erosion continues? There are about 30.4 million cubic miles of continental crust above sea level with a mass of 383 million billion tons. To calculate the amount of time required to deliver the present continents to the ocean we need only divide the mass of continents above sea level by the annual rate of erosion. The calculation would be:
|383 million billion tons||=14 million years.|
|27.5 billion tons per year|
The continents are being denuded at a rate that could level them in a mere 14 million years! Yet, evolutionary-uniformitarian geologists feel certain that the continents have existed for at least 1 billion years. During this supposed interval of time the present continents could have been eroded over 70 times! Yet�miracle of miracles�the continents are still here and do not appear to have been eroded even one time!
AGE OF THE OCEAN
Even though the continents could be eroded and transported to the ocean in just 14 million years, assume that some mysterious uplifting process continues to raise the continents as they are eroding. How much sediment would form at present rates of erosion in one billion years? The answer is found by multiplying the annual rate of addition of sediments to the ocean (27.5 billion tons per year) by the alleged evolutionary age of the ocean (1 billion years). During 1 billion years 27.5 billion billion tons of sediment would be produced. This is enough to cover the entire ocean floor with 97,500 feet (18.5 miles) of sediment! In order to produce this colossal quantity of sediment an incredible layer of rock 200,000 feet (38 miles) thick would have to be eroded off of the continents. Thus, if we assume the present rate of erosion and exposed continental volumes to have existed over the evolutionist�s supposed 1 billion year history of the world ocean, we would expect a staggering layer of sediment almost 100,000 feet thick to cover the sea floor today! Since such a monumental layer does not exist, it seems that evolutionists have grossly overestimated the age of the world ocean.
Another question is in order. How long would it take to deposit the present thickness of sediments on the ocean floor assuming constant rate of erosion? To obtain the answer we must divide the mass of sediment in the ocean by the yearly rate of sediment input. The calculation is:
|820 million billion tons||=30 million years.|
|27.5 billion tons per year|
In only 30 million years assuming constant rate of erosion all the ocean sediments could have accumulated. This age does not square with the over 1 billion year age assumed by evolutionary uniformitarian geologists.
It is important to note that according to evolutionary-uniformitarian geologists the last 30 million years were the time of considerable continental denudation. The greatly accelerated erosion rates of the late Cenozoic were climaxed by the ice age, "a time when the weather went wild."11 Modern river floodplains show evidence that vast quantities of water once passed into the ocean, exceeding modern river discharges. Scientists who have been working in deep sea drilling of sediments were recently surprised how far back the evidences of glaciation and more humid climate go into the sedimentary record. Therefore, the assumption of constant rate of sedimentation is not valid but requires greatly increased erosion rates in the past. This increased rate of sediment input to the ocean might decrease the apparent age of ocean sediments calculated above by a factor of ten to a hundred making it even harder to reconcile with the evolutionary model.
While the difficulties encountered with the evolutionary model are readily apparent, the creation model is consistent with the evidence. According to the creation model, the ocean reached its present condition only after the Noachian Flood. Some of the oldest ocean sediments appear to have been deposited rapidly from debris-laden water immediately after the Flood. These sedimentary layers do not require an associated long history of continental erosion.
The most recent ocean sediments appear to have been deposited in the centuries after the Flood when the climate was quite humid and when rates of erosion were significantly greater than at present. Most of the recent ocean sediments are probably not derived from erosion of continental granite, but derived from sedimentary rocks. Thus, the more recent ocean sediments appear to be chiefly "recycled" and do not require a long history. It is eminently reasonable to believe in a young ocean with an age of' 10,000 years or less.
THE EVOLUTIONIST'S DILEMMA
If the world ocean is a billion years old, there should be an enormous quantity of ocean sediments. Yet, even the evolutionist is aware of the scarcity of sediments. What would be his rebuttal to the arguments presented so far?
In order to have an ocean over a billion years old, yet possessing a meager carpet of sediments, the evolutionist must have some process which constantly removes sediments from the sea floor. The first process which comes to mind is removing sediment by uplifting sea floor and returning ocean sediments back to the continents. This may account for a little ocean sediment loss, but the total amount of sediments on the continents is about equal to the amount on the ocean floor. Adding all the sediments on the present continents to those in the modern ocean would still be far short of the anticipated 100,000 feet of ocean sediments which should exist if the ocean is a billion years old. This process does not solve the evolutionist's dilemma.
The second process is very ingenious. If the major quantity of sediment is not being removed from the ocean by uplifting, then the evolutionist must suppose some process which plunges deep ocean sediments into the depths of the earth! The favorite method is called "sea floor spreading," and suggests that the ocean floor is like a conveyor belt. Ocean crust is assumed to form continuously at the mid ocean ridges, then it accumulates sediments as it slowly moves away from the ridge, and finally both crust and sediments are destroyed by re-melting when dragged below ocean trenches. The best estimates by evolutionary-uniformitarian geologists suggest that about 2.75 billion tons of sediment per year12 are being destroyed by sea floor spreading. This rate is only one tenth of the modern rate of addition of sediments to the ocean. Stated another way, ocean sediments are forming today at a rate ten times faster than they are being destroyed by sea spreading! Thus, sea floor spreading is not able to destroy sediments fast enough.
After careful analysis of the erosion of continents and associated sedimentation in the world ocean, we must ask two urgent questions. Where is all the sediment if, as the evolutionist assumes, the ocean is over 1 billion years old? Who has the better model for the ocean�the evolutionist or the creationist? We feel confident that the true answers concerning the origin of the ocean are presented in Scripture. "The sea is His and He made it" (Psalm 95:5).
1. In my estimate of world average sediment thickness I have used the most recent data of M. Ewing, G. Carpenter, C. Windisch and J. Ewing: "Sediment Distribution in the Oceans: The Atlantic," Geological Society of America Bulletin, Vol. 84, January 1973, p. 83. Correction was made for Pacific Ocean sediments which are not as thick on the average as Atlantic Ocean sediments.
2. John N. Holeman: "The Sediment Yield of Major Rivers of the World," Water Resources Research, Vol. 4, August 1968, p. 737.
3. The density of deep sea sediments according to several authorities averages about 2.3 grams per cubic centimeter.
4. Robert M. Garrels and Fred T. Mackenzie: Evolution of Sedimentary Rocks, W.W. Norton & Co., New York, 1971, pp. 104-106.
5. Ibid. pp. 102, 103.
6. Ibid. p. 110.
7. Ibid. pp. 103, 104.
8. Ibid, pp. 110, 111.
9. Ibid. p. 111.
10. Ibid. p. 108.
11. See the excellent discussion of late Cenozoic erosion by R.W. Fairbridge: "Denudation", in The Encyclopedia of Geomorphology, Reinhold Book Co., New York, 1968 pp. 261-271.
12. Y. Li: "Geochemical Mass Balance among Lithosphere, Hydrosphere, and Atmosphere", American Journal of Science, Vol. 272, February 1972, p. 133.
* The Author. Stuart E. Nevins has B.S. and M.S. degrees in geology and is Assistant Professor of Geology at Christian Heritage College
Undoubtedly, the concept of a young earth poses a stumbling block to many Christians. Many do not find it hard to reject evolution, particularly with the fossil record showing distinct categories of plants and animals with no hint of any basic category changing into another. God surely created, they say, "but couldn't He have done it over millions and billions of years?"
Consider, in passing, the fact that the Bible specifically teaches a young earth, making it Biblically and theologically impossible for the earth to be "old." But if the earth is young, the geologic deposits of the earth's crust should show that, or at least be compatible with the truth. And, indeed, there is such evidence.
One of my favorite lines of reasoning is that of "soft sediment deformation." Most geologic rock layers started out as muddy sediments laid down under water, and hardened into rock as the water was squeezed out and the individual grains or molecules pressed together. Frequently, several thousand feet of these compressed rock layers are found stacked on top of one another, such as at the Grand Canyon, where about 5000 feet of horizontally bedded strata can be seen.
According to the old-earth idea, the Tapeats sandstone on the bottom of the Grand Canyon is about 550 million years old, while the Kalbab Limestone at the top is only 200 million years old. These sediments were uplifted to their present high elevation (some 7000 feet at the rim) about seventy million years ago, meaning the Tapeats was already 480 million years old at the time of uplift and "deformation".
The young-earth creationist interprets these Grand Canyon rocks as having been laid down by the Flood, the Tapeats early in the Flood, and the KaIbab within the next few months. The area was uplifted late in the Flood year, with trapped flood waters carving out the canyon itself while draining off the uplifted continents.
In Grand Canyon Park, most of these sediments, which were laid down horizontally under water, remained horizontal after uplift. But the uplift Beverly deformed these same sediments along the flanks of the plateau, in some areas leaving them in a vertical orientation. In my favorite spot, the Tapeats, which today is an extremely hard rock, was bent from horizontal to vertical in a space of 100 feet or so. The nature of this deformation shows that the sediments were almost certainly still soft when bent. They had not yet had time to turn hard. But it only takes a few hundred years at best for sandy sediments to turn to sandstone in the presence of high overburden pressure and adequate cement. Therefore, we are justified in concluding that the Tapeats was not 480 million years old at the time of uplift. It all happened in a short period of time, while the sediments were still soft.
The old-earth advocates can propose an unlikely scenario of flowage under high confining pressure, but clearly, the evidence better fits the young-earth idea, wiping out 480 million years of supposed earth history.
The best part is, the world is full of such examples, producing much geologic evidence for a young earth.
*Dr. John Morris is the President of ICR.
This article was originally published November, 1991.
In geology a controversy prevails concerning uniformity and catastrophe. Regarding mountain building, uniformity maintains that the necessary tectonic forces have always acted, and there should be mountains of every age. Catastrophists/creationists, however, consider mountains to be largely the result of Noah's Flood, which first deposited strata, then folded and eroded them, then later still uplifted them into modern mountain chains. Intense geologic processes were operating at rates, scales, and intensities, far in excess of today's "uniform" norms. Creationists believe some mountains may have risen during the late Flood (for example the Appalachian Mountains), but most mountains (Sierra Nevada, Rocky Mountains, etc.) were elevated in the latest Flood or earliest post-Flood times.** Thus, creationists would expect the world's mountain chains to be among its most recent geologic features.
As can be seen from the following list of data collected from numerous investigators and abridged from a similar chart by evolutionists Ollier and Pain in The Origin of Mountains, 2000, pp. 304-306, this expectation has been realized. Keep in mind that in standard evolutionary thinking, which involves billions of years, a few million years is no time at all. Thus, even evolutionists admit nearly all the world's mountains rose just "yesterday" in earth history.
Obviously, this is a "big picture" consideration. Virtually all the mountains of the entire world rose up in the last episode of Earth's geologic history just as expected from creation thinking. Some fine points may await resolution, yet the big picture favors creation.
|Mountain Chain/ Plateau/Rift||
Years Since Main Uplift
Tien Shan Mtns.
|Sierra Nevada Mtns.
Main Colorado Plateau
|New Guinea Mtns.
New Zealand Mtns.
** Scripture affirms that the waters once "stood above the mountains" (Psalm 104:6), then retreated (v.7), and then the mountains rose and the valleys sank (v.8).
By Larry Vardiman, PhD
The earth was created by God as the most beautiful planet in our solar system. Why? Because God is a god of beauty and design and he desired to prepare a special home for his highest creature, man. The first Apollo astronauts on the way to the Moon peered out the window of their spacecraft and were enthralled by the beauty of the earth framed against the blackness of the heavens. They stated, �Earth is like a Christmas tree ornament hung in space.�
What makes the earth so beautiful? The interplay between the light from the Sun and the white, blue, green, and brown colors from the Earth which produce incredible vistas from mountain tops and space. The ocean and atmosphere, the grasses and forests, the mountains and deserts, and the clouds and snow reflect, absorb, and scatter various colors of the rainbow. For example, during the day, blue light is selectively scattered by the atmosphere to form a beautiful, blue canopy of light. The stars are blotted out and the atmosphere is visible. But, at night, only a minor amount of light from the Moon and stars is scattered permitting one to see through the atmosphere to the stars in space. The reflected light from clouds and glaciers contrast strongly with the blue of the atmosphere and ocean. God has truly given us a beautiful place to call home.
But, in today�s skeptical culture in which many deny the existence of God or question his declarations in Scripture that He created the atmosphere on the second day of Creation and the ocean on the third day just a few thousand years ago, it is not enough to refer to beauty and design as evidence of His creative power and refer to the Bible as the record of His activities. Many now demand that independent evidence of a recent origin must be gleaned from the ocean and atmosphere directly to validate what Scripture says. Fortunately, a resurgence of quality research grounded on Biblical revelation has developed over the last twenty years or so. A number of PhD scientists with training in the atmosphere and ocean sciences and committed to a young earth have devoted full and part-time efforts to understanding processes which reveal estimates of rates and timing. This chapter will survey the current status of evidence of a few of the arguments for a young ocean and atmosphere.
Water on the Earth
About 2/3 of the surface of the Earth is covered by an ocean of water. The water fills the deepest trenches on earth to about 35,000 feet below sea level. Only the mountains and higher terrain extend above sea level. The amount of water in the ocean is sufficient to cover the entire Earth to a depth of about 8,000 feet if the surface of the earth was completely smooth. Earth is unique among the planets of the solar system because it currently exhibits the only liquid water on any planet at the surface. A small amount of water exists on a few of the other planets in either gaseous or frozen form, but only the Earth has liquid water. The temperature of the other planets is either too cold or too hot to maintain water in liquid form. Liquid water is necessary for most life processes on the Earth and explains why the planet is so fertile. Some of the other planets like Mars may have contained liquid water in the past as evidenced by erosional features, but this water has either evaporated and escaped to space or is trapped in the crust in frozen form.
Liquid water is a very unique substance. It makes life processes possible, it is a universal solvent, it stores large amounts of heat, it absorbs or releases large quantities of heat during phase changes, and it is denser than the solid state. Each of these properties is important, but probably, the most significant property for a discussion of the interplay between the ocean and the atmosphere is the massive influence the ocean has on the atmosphere. The ocean�s mass is almost 2,500 times greater than that of the atmosphere and its specific heat is about 4 times greater, so the ocean contains approximately 10,000 times more energy than the atmosphere. This means that long-term thermodynamic processes in the ocean essentially �drive� those in the atmosphere.
For example, the current concern about global warming is focused on changes in the temperature of the atmosphere caused by measured increases in carbon dioxide over approximately the past 50 years. Modeling studies assume the increase in concentration of carbon dioxide since 1958 will lead to an increase in the average global temperature of some 10 oF over the next 100 years. Such a large increase in average temperature would be of concern if it were to happen. But, models used to generate this dire prediction assume the increase in carbon dioxide is due to man�s activities and that the atmosphere is not coupled to the ocean. In fact, it is likely that the ocean is releasing a large percentage of the increased concentration of carbon dioxide due to the ocean�s ability to dissolve and store carbon dioxide. A very small increase in ocean temperature will release a massive amount of carbon dioxide and overwhelm any variation introduced by industrial processes. In addition, the ocean will act as a massive thermostat to modulate temperature change in the atmosphere. The ocean is like a giant flywheel in the earth-atmosphere system. Neither of these effects has been seriously considered in the global-warming debate.
A Warmer Ocean in the Past
Yet, there is evidence that the ocean was dramatically warmer in the past than it is today. It is commonly believed that during the Cretaceous Period, some 65 million years ago, according to the conventional evolutionary time frame, the average ocean temperature was much warmer than today�possibly as warm as 100 oF on the average. This temperature estimate is based on numerous methods including climate models and various paleothermometers (estimates of historical temperatures from proxy variables). However, the primary justification for this estimate is derived from sea-floor sediment data (Vardiman, 1996). Small microscopic organisms called foraminifera grow in the ocean and produce calcium carbonate shells (tests) which settle to the ocean floor when the organism dies. The shells contain different ratios of the isotopes of carbon (oxygen-18 and oxygen-16) depending on the temperature of the ocean in which they grew. Therefore, by analyzing the ratio of these two isotopes as a function of depth in sea-floor sediments an estimate of the average ocean temperature as a function of time can be made.
Unfortunately, the conventional method for estimating how fast sea-floor sediments accumulate ignores the global Flood described in Genesis and seriously overestimates the amount of time during which the sediments formed. The conventional method dates the Cretaceous Period at 65 millions years and older giving a cooling trend for the average ocean temperature which is extremely slow�on the order of 1.5 oF per million years or less. On the other hand, if the majority of the sea-floor sediments were assumed to have accumulated following the Genesis Flood some 5,000 years ago, the cooling trend would be much faster�on the order of 8 oF per thousand years. There is even a hint of more rapid cooling immediately following the Flood followed by a decline in the cooling rate. This trend is more realistic than the conventional interpretations because actual cooling trends typically exhibit an exponentially declining cooling curve as a function of the temperature differential between a hot object and a cold thermal sink. As the temperature difference decreases the cooling rate decreases, as shown in Figure 1.
So, the evidence for a warmer ocean in the past argues for recent, rapid cooling of young earth. In fact, the Genesis Flood also provides an explanation for why the ocean was warmer during the Cretaceous Period. The warm ocean was a result of heat released during the catastrophic processes of the Flood. If the Genesis Flood was as catastrophic as the Genesis account implies and direct geologic evidence supports, tremendous quantities of heat would have been released from all the geologic activity which occurred during the year of the Flood. Hot, molten magma would have been released to form the 40,000-mile long mid-ocean ridges on the ocean floor all around the globe. Continents would have been separated and moved thousands of miles. Tens of thousands of volcanoes would have erupted. The entire crust of the earth would have been buckled to form mountains, mountain chains, and trenches over the surface of the earth. Hot water would have been released from the fountains of the deep and the windows of heaven. The heat from all this geologic work would have been mixed throughout the depth and horizontal extent of the ocean by the water covering all the highest mountains during the early stages of the Flood and then retreating from off the continents at the end. So, the Cretaceous Period would probably have been the result of the catastrophic Flood processes. The conventional model for the Cretaceous Period has no generally accepted explanation for the source of heat that would cause the oceans to be as warm as 100 oF.
If the ocean temperature was warmer following the Genesis Flood than it is today, as indicated by these data, it is likely that a massive El Ni�o effect would have been present for several thousand years after the Flood. An El Ni�o event is a periodic warming of the ocean along the West Coast of the North and South American continents during which increased evaporation and heat flow from the surface of the ocean into the atmosphere energizes storms traveling across the Pacific onto the continents. These energetic storms produce severe weather along the coasts and redistribute precipitation patterns around the world. More snow typically falls in the mountains and rain falls at lower elevations causing local floods. Typically, El Ni�o events occur today with a periodicity of 7-10 years and produce a warming of the sea-surface temperature by 1-3 oF.
Figure 1.Temperature decrease with time following the Genesis Flood derived from 18O/ 16O ratios in the shells of microscopic marine organisms.
Following the Genesis Flood the average ocean temperature may have been initially as warm as 100 oF worldwide throughout the depth of the ocean. This is considerably warmer than the average temperature of about 40 o F today. The heat generated by the Flood would have been mixed throughout the ocean from the poles to the equator and from the sea surface to the sea floor. Today the sea-surface temperature only approaches 100 oF near the equator. The sea-surface temperature in the polar regions and the water at the bottom of the ocean from the poles to the equator can actually be colder than 32 oF because the water is salty and can be cooled below the normal melting temperature of pure ice.
The Ice Age
The current distribution of ocean temperature was produced since the Flood by the movement of hot water at the equator toward the poles, cooling to the atmosphere and space by radiation, sinking to the bottom of the ocean, and moving back toward the equator along the ocean floor. A tremendous quantity of heat was removed from the ocean in this process. At the same time large quantities of water were evaporated from the warm ocean and transported onto the continents were it was recondensed as rain and snow. The snow preferentially fell in the polar regions and on mountain tops over a period of less than 1,000 years. Glaciers and ice sheets formed quickly in this process producing the ice age which is conventionally thought to have occurred multiple times and taken about 100,000 years each time. The equivalent of 200-300 feet of water over the entire ocean is believed to have been removed from the ocean to the continents lowering the average sea level and exposing continental shelves worldwide. Shallow land bridges between Asia and Alaska and between Southeast Asia and Australia were exposed permitting easier migrations of people and animals from one continent to another following the Flood.
Dozens of explanations have been proposed for the cause of the ice age by conventional scientists, but all of them have excluded the Genesis Flood. The explanations vary from a reduction in the solar output of the Sun to bursts of metorite bombardment, increased volcanic activity, to periodic fluctuations in the heating by the Sun due to minor changes in orbital parameters. None of the conventional explanation have been successful in fully explaining the ice age. This is primarily due to the fact that none of them have included an adequate explanation for transferring such large quantities of water needed to form the ice sheets from the ocean to the continents under cold, ice-age conditions. Cold air present during the ice age would not have been able to hold sufficient water vapor to produce large amounts of snow and ice. An old adage is often applied by old timers to the lack of snow on really cold days in the winter�It's too cold to snow! A catastrophic solution which provides a source of water to form snow is needed to explain the ice age. A hot ocean following the Genesis Flood solves this problem.
Surprisingly, a hot ocean also produces another effect which was only recently discovered. Large, intense hurricanes, called hypercanes, may have formed during the millenium following the Genesis Flood when the sea-surface temperature was very hot. A sea-surface temperature warmer than 90 oF is often stated as one of the conditions for a tropical depression to grow into a hurricane. Today this condition only occurs in the tropics during late summer. The warmer the sea-surface temperature, the faster a tropical storm will intensify and the stronger it will become. Emanuel (2005) has proposed that at even higher temperatures a hurricane will continue to grow and intensify into a hypercane. Vardiman (2001) found that for sea-surface temperatures as high as 120 oF hypercanes can grow to hundreds of miles in diameter, produce horizontal winds of over 300 miles per hour, vertical winds of 100 miles per hour, and precipitation rates greater than 10 inches per hour. Figure 2 shows an example of such a hypercane was simulated in the Gulf of Mexico when the ocean surface was artificially maintained at a high temperature.
Figure 2. Numerical simulation of a giant hurricane (hypercane) in the Gulf of Mexico which grew when sea-surface temperature was artificially maintained at 120 o F. The yellow regions are cloud water and the green regions are rain.
Hypercanes following the Genesis Flood would have contributed to the accumulation of snow and ice in polar regions and on mountain tops and produced massive erosion of the bare unconsolidated landscape of the continents following the Genesis Flood. Because the low-level atmospheric winds which steer a hurricane generally flow from East to West in the tropics, as they do today, most of the erosion would have occurred on the eastern coasts of the continents at low latitudes. Few hurricanes affect the mid latitudes today because the oceans are too cold poleward of about 30 o latitude. However, immediately after the Flood the oceans would have been hot enough worldwide to support hurricanes and even hypercanes for hundreds of years. In mid latitudes where the low-level winds flow from West to East, the erosional features would have occurred on the western coasts of continents. In high latitudes where the low-level winds also flow from East to West, the erosion would have occurred on the eastern coasts of the continents.
Salt in the Ocean
Temperature changes are not the only window on the history of the ocean. Another piece of evidence arguing for a young ocean relates to the amount of salt it contains and the rate at which it was added. Austin and Humphreys (1990) conducted an inventory of the amount of Na + in the ocean (the positive ion from salt) and found that by making assumptions most favorable to an old-age, evolutionary model, such as no initial Na + , minimum input rates, and maximum output rates, the oldest ocean calculated was 62 million years. This is almost 75 times less than the 4.5 billion years for the conventional estimated age of the earth. The calculated age can easily be accomodated into a young, creationist model when non-zero initial concentrations of Na + and the likely affects of the Genesis Flood are considered.
Na + is the most common dissolved metal in the ocean. The worldwide delivery of Na + to the ocean by rivers has been recognized by scientists for hundreds of years (Halley, 1715). Until the early 1900's salt in seawater was thought to be a legitimate method for estimating the age of the earth. However, with the discovery of radioisotope dating which gives age estimates of 4.5 billion years, the concentration of Na + was believed to give an estimate of residence time rather than the age of the earth. Residence time is the average length of time the sodium ion would survive in the ocean before being removed. This steady state model of salt in the ocean says that Na + is removed from the ocean about as fast as it enters, causing the amount of Na + in the ocean to remain roughly constant with time (Rubey, 1951).
Austin and Humphreys (1990) compared the magnitude of the input and output rates of Na + to determine if the model is close to being in steady state. They computed the minimum input from eleven sources of Na + to the ocean including rivers, sediments, atmospheric and volcanic dust, glaciers, ground water, and hydrothermal vents and seven sinks of Na + from the ocean including sea spray, cation exchange, pore water, halite deposition, basalt alteration, and albite and zeolite formation. They found a minimum input rate today of 457 billion Kg/year and a maximum output rate of 122 billion Kg/year. Only 27% of the Na + going into today's ocean can be accounted for by known output processes. A separate study by Drever, et al. (1988) showed that the negative ion Cl - is also being added to the ocean at a much faster rate than it is being removed. Therefore, the ocean is not presently in a steady state condition and the age of the earth must be less than 62 million years.
A maximum age of 62 million years still seems like an extremely long period of time compared to a Biblical age of thousands of years. But, remember, the study by Austin and Humphreys (1990) went overboard to give the evolutionary time scale the benefit of the doubt. The estimated age still falls far short of the assumed conventional age of the earth. However, if one were to factor in Biblical arguments, this number would be reduced significantly, likely down to only thousands of years.
For example, there is no reason to assume the ocean didn�t already have dissolved salts when it was formed. Many of the fish and other creatures which live in the ocean today require salt water to survive. They would likely have been able to adapt to a more salty environment but probably not to the level of concentration observed today if it was originally fresh water. So, a major reduction in the estimated age of the ocean could be due to the ocean�s initial condition already containing large concentrations of Na + . There may be methods for estimating the initial concentration of salt in sea water by analyzing fossil fish or other organizations which died during the Genesis Flood. Their bodies may exhibit mechanisms or residual evidence of antediluvian conditions. There may also be other techniques for analyzing samples of pre-Flood conditions such as fluid inclusions in vesicles of pillow lava. Vesicles are small glass bubbles formed when magma cools. Pillow lava formed underwater would likely capture small samples of sea water which would have retained the characteristics of the water when it was trapped.
Of even more importance is the likely addition of major quantities of salts during the Genesis Flood. If the Flood is as catastrophic as the Bible states in which �all the high hills were covered�, it is probable that the Flood would have caused global devastation of unimaginable magnitude. There was no such thing as a calm, worldwide Flood. And, the geologic record exhibits evidence for an incredible global catastrophe in which the earth�s entire ocean and the crust were involved. About � of the earth�s land surface is covered with sedimentary rock formed during the Genesis Flood when material from the crust was pulverized and mixed into the ocean, finally settling to the bottom to form sediments which turned into rock when the water retreated from off the land. During the process in which rocks, gravel, sand, and muds rained through the ocean to form sediments on the ocean floor the ocean was leaching salts and minerals from the materials. Dissolved salts and minerals were left in the water after the Flood contributing to the load of Na + and other ions we find in the ocean today. So, it easy to see that the ocean must be much younger than the conventionally assumed age and very likely supports an age of thousands of years if earth history as recounted in the Bible is taken literally.
Minor Gases in the Atmosphere
Like the ocean the atmosphere contains evidence of past geophysical processes. Instead of dissolved solids like the ocean, the atmosphere contains concentrations of minor permanent gases which help us understand past chemical and nuclear processes. The atmosphere is composed mostly of nitrogen (~78%) and oxygen (~21%). It also contains much smaller concentrations of many other chemically active gases such as carbon dioxide and the noble gases argon (~1%), neon, helium, krypton, and xenon which are inert (Walker, 1977). These noble gases are particularly useful because they do not participate in chemical reactions and their concentrations can help to quantify the types and rates of nuclear processes. For example, the radioactive element uranium-238 is commonly present in many crustal rocks and forms helium when it disintegrates by nuclear decay. As the helium leaks from the rocks in the crust of the earth it escapes into the atmosphere where its concentration has been used to estimate how long the rocks have been decaying. Helium is a relatively light gas and a small amount can escape earth�s gravitational field when it is ionized and accelerate upward by what is called the polar wind. For several years before the magnitude of the polar wind was determined Vardiman (1990) reported that the lack of helium in the atmosphere argued for a young earth. That argument is no longer valid based on the measured and computed escape rate of helium to space in the polar wind. However, the large concentrations of helium remaining in crustal minerals is still a strong argument. Humphreys (2005) has presented an air-tight case that the earth is 6,000 � 2,000 years based on the residual concentration of helium in zircon grains of granites and the rapid diffusion rate of helium from them.
Another gas which could be used for this calculation is argon. It is produced by the decay of uranium in the rocks of the earth. Argon contributes the largest amount of any of the minor gases to the atmospheric composition. It is also massive enough that it will not escape to space by any conceivable mechanism. Its concentration should then be directly related to the amount of nuclear decay in the rocks of the earth. However, quantifying the amount of time based on the amount of argon in the atmosphere has several complexities which make it difficult to use. First, the rate of escape from the crust to the atmosphere is uncertain. Because argon is such a massive atom, it is also relatively large compared to other gases like helium. It is harder for such a large atom to diffuse from the crystalline structure in rocks where it is formed and, thus, should have a slower escape rate from the crust. Diffusion rates of argon from various minerals need to be validated. Second, Vardiman et al. (2005) found that nuclear processes in rocks of the earth have been accelerated during episodes in earth history which make invalid a simple calculation of the age of the earth based only on the concentration of argon in the atmosphere divided by an assumed constant production rate. The large amount of argon in the atmosphere argues for a large amount of nuclear decay, but not necessarily a long period of time. And, third, like most geochronometers, the problem of the initial concentration of argon needs to be dealt with. Once again, it is not necessary to assume a zero concentration of argon in the atmosphere at its origin.
It is becoming more and more evident that many geophysical arguments from the ocean and atmosphere support a young earth. In fact, conventional explanations for an old earth must often beg the question by special pleading and ignoring conflicting data. Many processes like heat and salt in the ocean and helium and argon in the atmosphere argue directly for a young earth. Some of the estimates for the age of the earth can even be quantified when catastrophic processes revealed in the Bible are considered. So, the age-of-the-earth problem is not so much one of forcing science and the Bible to agree, but rather, one of believing the Bible to establish the proper scientific questions. The future of creation science is bright due to so many highly-trained scientists who have confidence in the Bible now working on such problems.