“The waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills that were under the whole heaven were covered… All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land died” (Genesis 7:19, 22).
Christian paleontology may seem to be a contradiction of ideas, but if we define the two words and analyze the subjects, we find compatibility. The result is not the current “politically correct” view of our society but it is a blend of scientific evidence with spiritual truth.
A Visit with a Paleontologist
I recently visited with a paleontologist who lives at Arcadia, Florida. He is retired from a position as paleontologist with the Dallas Museum of Natural History. He has built a house in a wooded area where he displays fossils he has acquired around the world. I considered it a rare privilege to visit and converse with a paleontologist at the top of his field of study. We maintained a mutual respect for the right to have the perspective we were both educated in, yet we discussed some of the differences.
He planned the lobby of his house large enough to set up a full-sized duckbilled dinosaur he had found called Edmontosaurus. On the wall was a framed fish fossil about five feet long. On the desk in his study, he was reconstructing and gluing together the bones of a small dinosaur from Mongolia called Psittacosaurus. In some unfinished rooms in his house he had tall chests of drawers he had made with multitudes of fossil bones, seashells, skulls, and other body parts.
He was generous in giving away items. He took a handful of fossil shark’s teeth and poured some into the hands of the children that were with us. He also gave me a four inch stone nautilus (coiled seashell), a fossil oyster shell, a two inch pre-historic megalodon shark’s tooth, a brachiopod (clam-like mollusk), and an armadillo scute (horny bone plate from the ancient three to four foot high creature).
His fireplace face had ten to twelve inch polished chambered nautilus shells and mammoth and mastodon teeth embedded in cement.
Now to define our title. Paleontology is the study of animals, plants, and other living organisms from prehistoric times (time before secular records of history). “Fossil remains of (these) organisms occur in layers of sedimentary rocks (rocks formed when mineral matter settled out of air, ice, or water). The organisms that are now fossils were alive when the rocks were being formed. They were buried and preserved as the layers of rocks piled up” (World Book Encyclopedia). These muds hardened into rock through cementing action, drying out, and pressure.
To define the other word in our title, Christianity is of course the belief in Jesus Christ the Son of God and His word as revealed in the Old and New Testament of the Bible. Jesus Christ taught (and believers accept) the world wide flood in Noah’s day which destroyed the first world.
Jesus said, “In the days of Noah … they [irreligious society] did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage until the day came that Noah entered into the ark and the flood came and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:26, 27). The apostle Peter also referred to the pre-flood world when he said, “They were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is eight souls were saved by water “ (1 Peter 3:20).
Current secular paleontology is a mixture of facts with an evolutionary interpretation. Charts on our friend’s wall showed sequences of mammoth and mastodon evolution with variable forms. These are, of course, human arrangements and fabrications of variations in kind to fit preconceived ideas. We could as easily line up Holstein cows in a stable to “prove” evolution from black to white! Despite much rationalization by nominal Christianity, evolution with its struggle, pain and death to produce everything from nothing cannot be fit with the loving God of creation. “Thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands” (Job 14:15). Evolution does not need God and God does not need evolution.
Biblical paleontology does give answers to how all the plants and animals we find in the earth were fossilized, when they were deposited, why they were buried, and even who did it! The fossil record also has a special message for humanity today!
The ice age after the flood is the premiere evidence for the Biblical flood scenario. Secular scientists fall into the trap of saying the earth slowly cooled down for an ice age. Cold air holds very little moisture and could not provide the mechanism to unload water from the oceans onto the continents.
Antarctica is a prime example. It now has the thickest ice sheet on earth. But it gets only 1-7 inches of precipitation per year. It is just too cold to snow much! However Antarctica once got terrific snows from surrounding warm oceans to build up an ice pack that averages over a mile thick!
What is needed for an ice age is a quick climate change that leaves the earth with warm oceans and cold continents. This is the effect of the world-wide Flood. The earth had to be warmer in places where it is now an icebox. When the oceans and polar regions cooled down, the ice packs melted on the continents. The new earth, now open to the chill of space, cooled quickly. With a new snow cover, the earth also reflected 90% of the suns radiation while the oceans still absorbed 90%.
The cause for such a quick change is found in the break up of the water vapor blanket (Job 38: 9-11) that God decreed above the atmosphere at Creation (Gen. l: 6, 7). When these climate tempering warm waters precipitated, it rained forty days and forty nights (Genesis 7:11, 12). These waters along with underground waters from “the fountains of the great deep” rose to cover the highest hills of the pre-flood world (verse 19). In this catastrophic geologic event, water currents spread sedimentary layers one upon another, some containing life forms that fossilized.
The dinosaur footprints in the Paluxy River Valley of Texas were made in freshly laid mud with a higher cementing content. Over 300 footprints in the area are all heading the same direction. The signs claim they were migrating! More likely they were fleeing rising waters that quickly laid down the next layer of softer clays before the footprints could deteriorate. In recent centuries, the Paluxy River washed out the softer sediments and exposed the hardened casts of footprint trackways.
The evidences among the fossils for a sudden one-time worldwide catastrophe are many:
- Tree trunk fossils extend through multiple layers of rock presumed to be hundreds of thousands of years apart on the evolutionary time scale.
- Dozens of fish are found in the process of swallowing other fish and even giving birth.
- Clams and brachiopod are found closed. They open, decay, or are eaten when they die naturally.
- Two dinosaurs were found fighting with their claws into each other. Animals don’t just die and fossilize.
- Ferns and tropical plants are found in slate along coal seams looking as if they had been preserved fresh. Such plants would ordinarily wilt in a day.
Evidences for the warm, post-flood seas are the millions of large mammals that evidently flourished on grassy plains along the Siberian and Alaska coasts. The multitudes of bones and ivory tusks found there show that as the oceans cooled and the summers warmed from disbursing volcanic dust, north became the wrong way to go in winter. The coasts became a death trap. A few flesh carcasses are found frozen in these regions yet today.
God Is in Control
There was a reason for the destruction of the first world. God’s blessing or curse hinges on man, the crown of His creation, whom he charged with the care and cultivation of the earth (Genesis 1:28). Man had filled his heart with evil and the earth with violence like it is today. (Genesis 6:5-15; Matthew 24:37).
Satan has removed the love and benevolence of Christianity and brought the prevalence of fear, suffering, and death to much of the world again. Violence and disease, such as AIDS, are taking multitudes to a Godless eternity. The same individuals converted, trained and empowered with God’s righteousness would provide for many others instead of destroying them.
The fossil evidence of the first world that perished was deliberately place here as a reminder of God’s coming judgment by fire. “For this they willingly are ignorant of that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth, standing out of the water and in the water: whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water perished: but the heavens and earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:5- 7).
-by Elvin Stauffer