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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Geological Evidence for the Great Flood‏

Continuing our study on James Montgomery Boice's book, An Expositionary Commentary, Genesis Volume I, (Genesis 1-11), Boice is quite open about several shortcomings in the interpretation of Scripture that geology presents insofar as an actual worldwide flood having occurred. Among the points that Boice raises that can cast doubt on the Bible's account of the Great Flood are Heat Flow from Solidifying Lava, Radiometric Dating, Metamorphism and Plate Tectonics. There is no shortage of evidence out there on those topics if anyone is so inclined, but when it comes to evidence that supports the Bible's account of the Great Flood, there are some examples that can still mystify scientists and we are still waiting for a better explanation than a worldwide deluge. For example, in Chapter 50, we read....

"Scattered throughout the world in various places are large caches of animal bones in what geologists call "rubble drift in ossiferous fissures." Ossiferous fissures are great rents in the earth, such as occur during earthquakes or other violent disruptions of the earth's surface. Rubble drift is a kind of deposit in such fissures apparently placed there by water during the disruption in which the rents occurred. Such fissures have been found in England, France, southern Spain, Germany Russia and other countries. The interesting thing about them is that many are filled with bones of such animals as elephants, rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses, reindeer, horses, pigs and oxen. The skeletons are not intact. They have been ripped apart. but the bones are not scattered. They are thrown together in almost unbelievable profusion. It is a final interesting feature that they usually occur on isolated hills of considerable height.

A classic example is an isolated hill in the area of Burgundy, France, in the Saar valley. The hill rises 1,030 feet above the surrounding plain and has near it's top a fissure crowded with animal bones. In this fissure, the bones of animals not usually found together are intermixed. On the island of Cerigo, near Corfu, there is a mountain called the mountain of bones. The area involved is a mile in circumference at the base, and from base to summit it is literally covered with skeletons. The Rock of Gilbraltar has bone-filled fissures that are 300 feet deep. In a cavern near Palermo, Sicily, more than twenty tons of bones have been discovered. In the northwest corner of Nebraska there is a hill on which a bone bed was discovered in 1876. It is estimated that the bones of about 9,000 complete animals are buried on this one hill. There are similar examples from the Russin steppes near Odessa, from Brunswick and Stuttgart, Germany, from malta and other places.

What can account for the collection of so many bones of so many mutually hostile animals in such unlikely environments-if not the worldwide flood of of Genesis 6-9? One commentator writes, "A great flood of water is the only reasonable explanation for this strange phenomenon. For what else could have driven these animals together on hilltops and caused them to perish in such numbers but the waters of an all engulfing flood?"

Boice mentions a couple of other examples from geology that support the Genesis account, but I can see that this post is running a bit long here. Consider this your open "ossiferous fissure" thread. I hope to get around to the other examples at a later date.


His Lordship The Gun-Toting Atheist said...

1. What evidence does he offer that the bones were deposited by water and not by some other manner, say, hunters disposing of carcasses, for instance?

2. What evidence does he offer that the bones were deposited at the same time, and not over hundreds or thousands of years?

3. As far as some animal remains being found in 'unlikely' environments, consider that "Hippopotamus amphibius was widespread in North Africa and Europe during the Eemian and late Pleistocene until about 30,000 years ago" Source: Van Kolfschoten, Th. (2000). "The Eemian mammal fauna of central Europe". Netherlands Journal of Geosciences 79 (2/3): 269–281

JD Curtis said...

I think that if these bones were the result of hunter-gatherer parties deposting them there over time, there would be wounds consistant with arrow and spear marks as well as the marks of teeth as the bones were gnawed.

But what do I know?

His Lordship The Gun-Toting Atheist said...

In his own words, the skeletons are 'ripped apart'. Are we really sure there are not other marks on the bones?

If these animals had been drowned by rising waters, the carcasses would have floated away and would not have sunk into narrow cracks in the manner described.

Timeless said...

The arguments of geology and fossils often spin nowhere. Clearly in the case of most all fossils that we find there was some sort of catastrophic extinction event that happen suddenly and rapidly.

There have been numerous research done on megaflood events like Lake Mossula and the Washington Scablands. The scouring of the English Channel by a megaflood event, said to be localized of course. And numerous others across the globe, all said to be localized. Both the English Channel and Scabland events are said to be the results of massive amounts of lake water held back by a mega glacial dam.

There is a interesting phenomena thanks to Global warming that illustrates the impossibility of large ice dams holding back billions of tons of meltwater. Up in Greenland on the massive ice glacier, there are many summertime lakes which form from melt water which are called supra-glacial lakes. They build up only to a point, at which time a large crack forms and grows bigger down to the bedrock beneath the glacier. At a sudden moment large resivoirs of water are subducted into the crevace at an amazing rate to where a several hectors lake disappears in 30-90 mintutes. So no amount of melt water is by nature allowed to collect to any great degree.

As a side point, the subduction does help to illustrate something else. When the water subducts rapidly, it lifts the glacier up from the bedrock right near the point of the fault to about a meter in heigth. The phenomena causes sharp square and triangular blocks of ice to uplift on the surface to about 6 meters in height comapre to the original surrounding surface. This could well illustrate the clear uplifted features of say areas of the rocky Mountains, Sierra Nevadas, etc, where large faults are present along entire mountain chains. The uplifted shapes of these huge geological features are almost identical in appearance to those uplifted ice blocks. If the waters subducted back into the earth after a global deluge, certainly such uplift between the mantle and Earth's crust could have had similiar effect.

Global Warming has also revealed other ancient natural phenomena such as the ancient hydrological cycle of hydrothermal karstification or minerotrophic water cycle. That for me has been the most fascinating. I don't have the time now, but i have written some things about this on the blindedbyscience.co/forum.

PS, that forum has nothing to do with biblical events, but rather unusual phenomena wrtten about by a Matthew Silverstone. If you register there, you can read what I wrote under the "Chapter 2 - Water" section. I use the same username there as well.

Anyway, just interesting stuff, that's all.

JD Curtis said...

Think about it GTA.

After every successful hunt, me and you and whoever else we could scare up would have to drag the heavy carcass up a very large hill in order to dump the thing.

Doesnt make much sense to me. Especially when bones could have been made into tools.

GentleSkeptic said...

JD: do you have any thought on just how high the sea level rose during the Flood? These hills/ossiferous fissures all seem to be a few hundred to a little over a thousand feet. My understanding is that the waters covered the earth (Genesis 7:19-20), which would suggest the sea level rose 29,000 feet in 40 days, then receded almost as quickly…

HLTGTA had the same thought I did about human involvement and carcass disposal. It also occurred to me that animals fleeing a big fire could similarly fall into fissures like the ones described, and big fires don't leave much in the way of geological records.

In any case, it seems to me that anyone who says that "a great flood of water is the only reasonable explanation for this strange phenomenon" isn't really looking for other explanations, and is also forgetting that a flood needn't be global to be catastrophic.

GentleSkeptic said...

After every successful hunt, me and you and whoever else we could scare up would have to drag the heavy carcass up a very large hill in order to dump the thing. Doesnt make much sense to me.

Unless they were sacrifices…

His Lordship The Gun-Toting Atheist said...

JD, consider this. Hippos float. They live in water. They don't sink in tiny little underwater cracks. The dead bodies of all those animals would have become buyoant, floated away, and would not have piled up in fissures.

You don't have to keep every single friggin bone to make tools, you throw most of them away.

And if a global flood did happen, where did all the water go when it receded?

Maybe it wasn't hunters, but flooding was not the cause of those ossiferous fissures.

JD Curtis said...

Hippos float. They live in water. They don't sink in tiny little underwater cracks

These great rents in the earth are "tiny"? I would be interested to know where you came across this information.

His Lordship The Gun-Toting Atheist said...

These great rents in the earth are "tiny"? I would be interested to know where you came across this information.

Dear JD, the point here is not the size of those cracks. It's that dead bodies float. (They also become bloated after a few weeks in the water, and smell reaaally bad too). They don't sink into isolated crevasses on mountain sides.

And I'd like to know where the author of Genesis came across his/her information.