The Creation Explanation
|The Primeval World -- Fossils, Geology & Earth History|
LORD, You have been our dwelling place in all
generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and
the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.
What was the world like in the beginning? Was it very different from what it is today? What about the plants and animals, the climate, the oceans and mountains? And how did all things begin--the earth and the creatures that inhabit it? Such questions about the ancient past have intrigued people of all eras. But is there any sure way of uncovering the answers to these questions about prehistoric times, that is, the times predating human works of history? The faith of Christians rests on the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. This Bible they receive by faith as God's infallible and inerrant revelation to man. They embrace the central Person in the Bible, Jesus Christ, as "Lord of all" (Acts 10:36). If he is Lord of all then He is Lord of science and of all other areas of knowledge. He admonished the Jewish religious leaders, "...if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?" (John 5:46, 47). Thus the Lord Jesus commands His believers to believe the writings of Moses, and in Genesis Moses tells us about the primal history of the world, of life on earth, and of Adam's race. This biblical revelation of the truth about beginnings in Genesis provides a framework within which Christians assess all other ideas on the subject. Therefore, in this chapter we will consider the data of geology and paleontology and try to understand how they fit into the framework of the opening chapters of Genesis.
Two Approaches To The Fossil Evidence
Most scientists working in the fields of paleontology and geology believe that by studying the rock structures of the earth and the fossil remains of creatures that live in the past, they can reconstruct an accurate picture of the world of long ago. And they believe that they possess valid scientific evidence for their view of the early history and conditions on the earth. It is important to remember, however, that they are dealing with questions of the earth's prehistory which are actually not verifiable by the methods of experimental science. The evidence found in the rocks is merely circumstantial evidence; that is, its true meaning and significance depend upon what the total circumstances may have been. All of these circumstances are not known, nor can we by reason determine positively what the correct interpretation of any particular fact should be. Ultimate historical evidence always involves human eyewitness testimony or documents left by eye witnesses, but no such testimony or documents are available for the early history of the earth.
The only documents which purport to give authoritative testimony about the early history of the earth are certain basic writings of some of the great world religions. The document which is most widely accepted in the western world is the Bible which contains the report of Moses in the Book of Genesis. Whether or not one believes that such records contained in the basic scriptures of a particular religion provide correct knowledge about early earth history is a matter of personal faith, not of science. However, believers in the Koran, the Hindu or Buddhist writings, the Bible or other traditions may look at the world and seek to find data which can be logically fitted into an explanation or model which corresponds to that particular religious document which they by faith accept as divinely revealed truth. Each religious person will tend usually to interpret the circumstantial evidence of geology and paleontology in a manner which is supportive of his or her personal faith commitment. This is acceptable in science, provided that all the pertinent data is entertained by the interpreter and problems and difficulties with a particular interpretation are honestly recognized, not ignored or concealed.
What two sets of a priori principles or assumptions do the creation and evolution oriented scientists bring to their studies of the earth's prehistory? Expressed in greatly simplified form they are as follows:
It is obvious that two scientist interpreting the same observed data from geology and paleontology in accordance with two such contradictory sets of assumptions will very likely reach contradictory conclusions. However, we can still examine the evidence for ourselves and see which set of presuppositions more reasonably and accurately correlates with the evidence. This is what we will now attempt as we look into the geological and fossil records.
The secular geologic column
The fossil and geological data, interpreted by secular scientists in accord with the above evolutionary assumptions, are summarized in what is called the Geologic Column. Table 1 presents a simplified geologic column. It is supposed that if all of the fossil-bearing sedimentary strata were present in one location on the earth in the order of their deposition from bottom to top, they would form a column of sediments perhaps 100 miles high, in the order portrayed by Table 1. The principal question addressed in this chapter of The Creation Explanation is whether or not the Geologic Column constructed and interpreted in accord with the evolutionary philosophy gives a correct portrayal of the history of life on the earth.
table 3-1. The Geologic Column with the Uniformitarian Geological Time Scale.