Evolution and the Geologic Record

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.     Genesis 1

Is the earth billions of years old? Or is the earth, based on biblical chronologies, more like 8000-10,000 years old?  Is creation by God without evolution a fact?  Well, I’m a Christian blogger.  Reading this entry is like going to see Titanic: You know how it’s going to end, but you might find path worth walking.

Like all college undergrads, I had to fulfill a doggone science requirement. I stumbled into geology and found it interesting enough to  stay with it until I had my required hours in.  My historical geology course ended with a 1-question final exam: List all of the geologic periods in order, complete with hand-drawn maps of North America of each period and the major climate, flora, and fauna characteristics of each.  Yeah, it was a booger of an exam…WHICH I ACED!! Point being, I knew my poo.

So I think I’ve got a few chops to write this entry.

In the book “Coming to Grips with Genesis” by Terry Mortenson, PhD. and Thane H. Ury, PhD., the authors do not dispute that there is a fossil record. They do dispute what the record means.  They don’t think it means evolution is the explanation.  The book spends time slowing down our thought process to make sure we distinguish between facts and what someone thinks those facts mean.

So the question I bring to this moment is whether the geologic record is a fact of evolution, or is it something that exists for another reason or reasons? Other facts?

Let me start by referring to “Blink: The Art of Thinking Without Thinking” by Malcolm Gladwell. Mr. Gladwell documents the leap the mind can often take, where something suddenly makes sense to you.  You “know” something without necessarily knowing how you know it.  Know what I mean?  I personally started calling it the “snick” when something suddenly comes into focus like when you’re getting your eyes checked.  The optometrist asks if the image is better like this or (snick) like this, as he clicks another lens into place.

So what “snicked” for me?

First, during my study of historical geology I was never quite comfortable with the geologic record. I just couldn’t reconcile how it could exist as it does with, I don’t know, some nagging, yet unclear reason in my mind.  I couldn’t see in my mind’s eye how such a prolific number of creatures could be preserved in the fossil record the way geologists explained it: animals died, lay where they fell, and were slowly covered by sediments for us to discover billions of years later.  Does that sound kinda iffy to you like it does me?  Hold that thought.

Bigfoot critics like to point out that no one has ever found a bigfoot carcass, so there couldn’t possibly be a Bigfoot. And you can make that argument for any exotic, supposed-to-be creature; chupacabra, Queensland Tiger of Australia, the coelacanth, or…fill in your own blank.  Makes sense, right?  Then I hear a park ranger from the Pacific Northwest admit he’d never seen a bear carcass in all his years in the wilderness.  Does that mean there are no bears?  Of course not.  However, the pivotal point for this discussion is why no bear bodies?  Think of a dead bear as a smorgasbord.  Lots of hungry critters eat him up.  Hm.

I remember seeing a National Geographic special about the ocean floor, which is a pretty desolate place. Just a lot of flat sandy floor with an occasional rock or boulder.  They come across the leftovers of a whale carcass.  The soft tissue has all been pretty well cleaned off by carnivores and scavengers.  There’s little bone and cartilage remaining, but the smallest scavengers and boring worms were going to finish it up pretty soon.

When Robert Ballard discovered the Titanic wreck, he had pictures that puzzled him, pictures of shoes and boots lying alone in pairs on the ocean floor. He suddenly realized that the bodies of the wearers were literally eaten of their footwear bones and all, leaving shoes to mark their owners’ final resting place.

Where did the experts say the fossil record comes from? Animals that died and just laid there unbothered until they were covered by sediment which became geologic layers of rock?  Hm again.

So one day I’m at the Creation Museum near Cincinnati with my wife, and I get to an exhibit about – you guessed it – geology. It showed a picture of the scarred land shortly after the Mt. Saint Helens explosion in 1980.  The mudslides and erosion looked just like another picture next to it: the Badlands.  The Badlands look exactly like the Mount Saint Helen’s landscape, but, of course, MUCH bigger!  What in the world would cause…?  Holy erosion, Batman!  The Flood!  The biblical Flood with Noah!

The flood did not last 40 days as many people incorrectly state. The flood kept coming for forty days, Gen 7:17.  I calculated the timeline provided in Genesis 8 using a 30-day month and came up with 372 days, start to finish, before the earth was dry and God called Noah and family out of the ark.  Over a year.  For water covering the whole earth to drain into a whole new configuration.  That’s some huge drainage.  Happening pretty fast.  The kind of thing that could cause the Badlands and the Grand Canyon kinda quick-like.

The exhibit posited that the erosion we see everywhere on earth happened very fast in the Flood, not over millions of years. That kind of flow and the underwater avalanches that had to happen would explain the rich geologic record.  Their theory, their interpretation of the facts of the geologic record brought my misgivings about the fossil record into focus.  The speed with which everything moved would explain why dead animals didn’t get eaten before being covered.  The different stages of the flooding and then the draining process would explain the geologic “periods”, different periods of erosion and sediment deposits as the waters found their new levels.  Snick.

So…the geologic record exists. Can’t argue that.  But what does it mean?  How did it come to be?  Evolution or God doin’ some good old-fashioned Old Testament Smiting?

Check out the Creation Museum. You might find it…interesting;  http://creationmuseum.org/

Also see “The New Answers Book1” by Ken Ham. Over 25 questions and answers on Creation/Evolution and the Bible.

What do you think? I and other readers want to hear from you!