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Creationism's Geologic Time Scale

Should the scientific community continue to fight rear-guard skirmishes with creationists, or insist that "young-earthers" defend their model in toto?

Donald Wise

Pre-Flood Earth History

Creationist pre-flood geology and biology span the period of roughly 1,500 years between creation week and the global flood that was survived only by the inhabitants of the ark. Henry Morris (1978) proposes that during this time lunar craters were formed as collateral damage in cosmic battles between Satan's angels and those of the Archangel Michael. Creationists also allege that the thin coating of dust on the moon and in its craters indicates that both moon and earth are very young. Such arguments continue to be made despite a recent technical paper by two creationists (Snelling and Rush 1993) who review the subject and conclude:

It thus appears that the amount of meteoritic dust and meteorite debris in the lunar regolith and surface dust layer, even taking into account the postulated early intense bombardment, does not contradict the evolutionists' multi-billion year time scale (while not proving it). Unfortunately, counter responses by creationists have so far failed because of spurious arguments or faulty calculations. Thus, until new evidence is forthcoming, creationists should not continue to use the dust on the moon as evidence against an old age for the moon and solar system.

Meanwhile, back on earth, creationist time continues in the Garden of Eden, where all animals including dinosaurs started out as vegetarians, an interpretation based on Biblical statements of the absence of death in Eden prior to the apple incident (Gish 1992). Evidence most commonly cited for the coexistence of people and dinosaurs prior to the flood consists of intermingled footprints of dinosaurs and supposed human beings in bedrock exposed in and along the Paluxy River of central Texas. The creationist interpretation of these tracks is that they include human footprints created in early phases of the Noachian flood just before these evil people and dinosaurs were engulfed.

Figure 2. Unlike the 4.5-billion-year-old geologic time scaleClick to Enlarge Image

G. J. Kuban, a religious man scrupulous about the scientific details of these footprints, reports (1986) visiting the Paluxy site in the company of a number of creationists, including John Morris. Kuban's extensive documentation of the tracks includes stain markings of obviously nonhuman, three-clawed toes as integral parts of the "man-tracks." He notes later correspondence with John Morris in which Morris agrees that all the Taylor Site tracks (the best of the sites) were probably dinosaurian. In the same issue of Origins Research, Morris (1986) makes a half-hearted retraction.

Kuban felt it necessary to draw the lines between science and religion carefully. In a statement following the article cited above, he wrote:

I am a Christian and believe in a Creator, but prefer not to be labeled a "Creationist" or an "Evolutionist," since I do not fully identify with all the tenets that are often assumed to typify each camp.… Although my findings are not favorable to the "man track" claims, the objective of my research has not been to attack Creationism, but to carefully investigate and document what actually exists on the Paluxy sites alleged to contain human footprints.… When the full evidence is brought to light, it is evident that all the Taylor Site tracks are dinosaurian.

As for the flood itself, creationist models for the source of the waters stem from the writings of Isaac Newton Vail, who refined over a 30-year period the "annular theory" (Vail 1912), in which the early earth had a series of Saturn-like aqueous rings, the collapse of which caused successive cataclysms to bury organisms and create fossils. The collapse of the last ring caused the Noachian flood. Subsequently, most writings propose only one great canopy, which collapsed to create the flood (Dillow 1981). Alternative creationist models store most of these waters within the earth to help create the flood as the Biblical "fountains of the deep" (Austin et al. 1994).

The deep structure of the creationist earth also differs somewhat from that of modern geophysics. The Creation/Evolution newsletter describes a creation seminar in 1986 where Henry Morris was asked about the bottomless pit of Revelations 9:1–11. His answer was:

Whenever Hades or Sheol is referred to in the Bible, it's always down in the earth, the depths of the earth. So right there in the center of the earth, apparently there's a great opening that we can't really deal with in terms of our seismic instruments or other instrumentation. But apparently it is there. You can take the Bible to mean what it says.

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