Re: Geology, Fossils and Genesis

Glenn Morton (
Sat, 08 Jun 1996 09:13:45

Dick wrote:
>Glenn, you'd be a lot more fun to talk to if you didn't mix in this
>element of ridicule. Perhaps I'm just sensitive, but please try to
>watch that.
I apologize. You are correct and I was wrong there. I will not make any
excuses. I hope you will forgive me.

>Okay, let's look at Genesis and see how far off the biblical account
>really is.
>Genesis 1:9: "And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered
>together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so."
>About 3.5 billion years ago, massive dome-like blocks of granite buoyed
>up from within the earth's mantle. These huge granite obtrusions could
>have reached initial heights of over twenty-five miles high. They also
>formed massive roots, or cratons, underpinning our continental land
>masses today.

I do not know where you get the idea that the continents were 25 miles
high. That is 132,000 feet or 40 kilometers. There is a maximum height
that a mountain can be on any planet. The materials which must support
such mountains would become plastic and flow causing the mountains to
sink. For the earth the highest mountain can only be approximately 1.3 x
10^-3 of the earth's radius. (See John D. Barrow and Frank Tipler, The
Anthropic Cosmological Principle, 1986, p. 308-309). Since the earth is
6378 km in radius, this means that the highest mountain can only be around
8.2 kilometers high this is amazingly close to the height of Mount

I have never seen the 25 mile high continent assertion in a geology book.
I have nearly an entire converted garage full of geology books and I can't
find this "fact" in any of them. Do you have a reference?

> The fossilized remains of dinosaurs and coal seams in Alaska and
>Antarctica testify to their once warm-weather environs. Relief maps of
>the Mid-Atlantic Ridge between Europe and the Americas show the
>unmistakable stress of millions of years of internal pressure with
>resultant sea floor spreading.

Geologically, most of Alaska is is made up of terrain that formed a lot
further south. Continental drift has rafted these various pieces of land
onto North America and the fact that Mesozoic coals, limestones and
dinosaurs are found in Alaska does not prove that the pole was warm. (see
Jones, Cox and Coney, "The Growth of Western North America", Scientific
American, 247:5 (1982)


>As Glenn correctly pointed out, bacteria and blue-green algae got their
>start over 3 billion years ago. The importance of algae early in the
>earth's history cannot be overemphasized. Through the process of
>photosynthesis, they give off oxygen, a necessary atmospheric ingredient
>for the more complicated life forms to follow.
>The fossil record indicates that marine life, including both plant and
> animal life, preceded any land-based life forms.

Thus, since the Biblical order states that land life came first, are you
admitting that the fossil record does not match the biblical order as I

> Fossilized shells can be found in profusion today, which mark the
>beginning of the Cambrian period with an exclamation point.

Sorry Dick this is now out of date with the view of the Cambrian. Shelly
material is now found down in the latest part of the Precambrian and some
of the Ediacaran like animals are found in the earliest part of the
Cambrian. The "explosion" has become gradual.

>Strange looking colonial creatures called graptolites were prevalent,
> and are part of the Stomacordata group which stands midway between
> invertebrates and vertebrates. The first hint at vertebrates appeared in
>the Ordovician period 500 million years ago such as a kind of fish
>without jawbones called Agnatha, forerunners to present-day lampreys.

Sorry Dick, this is also wrong. The earliest chordate is from the early
Cambrian. (J. Y. Chen, et al, "A Possible Early Cambrian Chordate,"
Nature, 377, Oct. 26, 1995)


>Here critics can point to seeming discrepancies. From the evidence
> available, life in the ocean dates to even before the Cambrian period of
>570 million years ago, and preceded life on land. The Bible demonstrates
>consistency, though; ancient precursors to modern men are excluded from
>the biblical record, and so are ancient aquatic precursors to modern
>plant and animal life.

Where do you get that idea? This seems rather ad hoc. Evolutionarily,
fish are our ancestors and they are in the Biblical record! Genesis 1:25
says God created the wild animals. Tarsiers are wild animals and are
believed to be in the direct evolutionary lineage of man. This is


>The latimeria and ceratodus could be called modern fish, but they
> appear 195 million years ago in the Jurassic period. Over 100 million
>years stand between seed bearing land plants and what could be called
>modern fish.
Do you really think the Bible is making this type of biological
distinction? Even if it is, this can hardly be considered a concordance
between Genesis 1 and the fossil record. If you say that God was talking
about seed bearing plants rather than spore bearing plants, then you still
have the problem that the sun and moon must have been created less than
195 million years ago, after the plants. You have made your problem

Teleosts, bony fish, which most modern fish are, appear long before seed
bearing plants. Sharks appear 500 million years ago long before
seedbearing plants (Ivan J. Sansom, M.M. Smith and M. P. Smith, "Scales of
Thelodont and shark-like fishes from the Ordovician of Colorado," Nature,
379, Feb. 15, 1996.)

>But what about "grass" on the third day of creation? Grasses did not
> emerge until after the dinosaurs became extinct. How can 62 million
>year old grass predate the dinosaurs, for example, who came into
>existence over 200 million years ago?
>Massive dinosaurs leave huge bones, which make wonderful fossils. The
>Cambrian explosion left a permanent record of hard-shelled marine
> creatures that is impossible to ignore. Any soft-shelled predecessors
>left scarcely a trace. The same could be said for any land-based
>vegetation that might have been.
Good try, but pollen is given off in vast quantities by grasses. And
pollen is a very easily fossilized material and is very difficult to
destroy. If grasses existed prior to the dinosaurs, grass pollen WOULD be
found in rocks of those ages. I know several palynologists and they
assure me that no pollen evidence of grass exists prior to the early
tertiary. This suggestion simply will not work

>Sparse fossil evidence gives us no way of knowing exactly what plant
> life first began to grow on dry land. Try to find last year's grass
>clippings on your front lawn today. More to the point, the Hebrew word,
>deshe' translated "grass," can mean simply "vegetation." We can verify
>that the earth has had land-based vegetation for over 400 million years.
Yes, but marine life has been on earth for 3.4 billion years. The order
in the Bible is quite contrary. And your lawn is not a good place to look
for incipient fossils. Try looking in an oxbow lake in a river valley.

>Modern fruit trees certainly were not in existence before fishes. That
>seems to be true, but these verses say nothing about "modern" fruit
>trees. In English, fruit trees bear edible fruit; apples, pears,
>cherries, and so forth. The Hebrew term includes seed-bearing trees, and
>shade trees that do not bear edible fruit.
You are being internally inconsistent Above you wanted to use "modern"
fish to explain the concordance and now you say the Bible says nothing
about "modern" fruit trees. Well the Bible didn't say anything about
"modern fish" either. This is ad hoc.

>Apple trees, for example, do not date to the Upper Silurian, but the
> "fruit" of any plant is its yield. Conifers were among the first
>land-based vegetation, and calling them "fruit trees" is consistent with
>the Hebrew.
Conifers were not among the first land-based vegetation. The psilopsoda
appears in the fossil record in the Silurian circa 420 million years ago.
Conifers do not appear until 360 million years ago. If sixty million
years is "among the first" then we live in the age of the dinosaurs!(see
McAlester, The history of life, p. 86)

>Some Bible scholars have put a strain on these passages, maintaining
> that the sun, moon, and stars were created on the fourth day. This is
>unwarranted. The emphasis in this verse is on the purpose for the
>heavenly bodies not their coming into existence.
Those pesky Bible scholars! They are probably straining other passages,
maintaining that land plants were created on the third day or that mankind
was created on the sixth day. They should be ashamed of themselves for
such straining. It is clear that these verses are emphasising the
purpose of the landplants and the purpose of mankind not their coming into

>A possible reason Genesis lists land plants before the luminaries began
> to govern is either because there were no eyes to see light, or
>something such as liquid water or dense clouds prevented the heavenly
>lights from being seen. Dense vapor clouds surrounding the primitive
>warm earth might not have cleared enough to enable the sun, moon, and
>stars to shine through, and so they could not be used for telling time.
>Is it possible that cloud cover could have lasted four billion years,
> until after land plants appeared? Maybe not, but clouds are only a
>water vapor barrier which inhibit terrestrial creatures from making
>celestial observations. No land animals existed until the fifth day of
>Sea creatures also cannot make celestial observations due to a water
> barrier in liquid form. So for whichever reason, the presence of an
>obscuring barrier, or the lack of observers, the sun, moon, and stars
>beginning to function as timekeepers on the fourth day of creation in no
>way contradicts the flow of events projected by naturalists.
Are you saying that there was someone around 400 myr (or 195 million if
you use the seed bearing plants) ago who could tell time? This is
almost silly.

Of my noting that the biblical order is not the same as the fossil record
Dick writes:

>This is a strange comment coming from someone who has gone out of his way
>to try and hold to the creation of Adam with some semblance of the
>biblical account preserved. Why aren't you consistent and declare that
>the evolution of man from apes "does not even come close to matching the
>Biblical order"?

I quite agree that the events of geologic history do not match the order
seen in Genesis 1. That is what I have been arguing all this time!! Are
you not listening? As I have mentioned, I view Genesis 1 as a set of
proclamations made prior to the foundation of the universe. This is when
God set in motion the laws of the universe and the events which led to us.
Thus the order God proclaimed things does not have to match the order
they were fulfilled. Thus I within my view I don't have to worry about
the order of events in Genesis 1. You do, but I don't.


>Next, the Hebrew word 'op that has been translated "fowl," is a "flying
>creature," the same basic word for "insect" which probably would have
> been a better translation. Flying insects date to 300 million years ago
>in the Carboniferous period, and were useful for pollinating some of the
> vegetation springing forth at about that time. Also, why would "fowls"
>be mentioned three times in three consecutive passages (Gen.1:20-22)?
>If birds had been intended in all three instances it would be a
>curious redundancy.
Even going with this approach it is difficult to say that flying things
are created with the fish. Fish appear in the early Ordovician at
500 myr and flying things appear in the Upper Carboniferous at 300 myr.
The Biblical order is does not match the fossil data.

Foundation,Fall and Flood