Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Once Upon a Time – Part II

Continuing with the change from global catastrophism to the new Uniformitarianism that began around 1800, and the single most important event of eliminating the Flood from the working beliefs of the Earth sciences, the leading scientific proponent of catastrophism in the early nineteenth century was the French anatomist and paleontologist Georges Cuvier, the leading French naturalist of the early 19th century. 
The motivation of Cuvier’s (left) was not about creation, but to explain the patterns of extinction and faunal succession he and others were observing in the fossil record. While he did speculate that the catastrophe responsible for the most recent extinctions in Eurasia might have been the result of the inundation of low-lying areas by the sea, he did not make any reference to Noah’s Flood. Nor did he ever make any reference to divine creation as the mechanism by which repopulation occurred following the extinction event of the Flood.
    In fact Cuvier, influenced by the ideas of the Enlightenment and the intellectual climate of the French revolution, completely avoided religious or metaphysical speculation in his scientific writings. Cuvier also believed that the stratigraphic record indicated that there had been several of these revolutions, which he viewed as recurring natural events, amid long intervals of stability during the history of life on earth. This led him to believe the Earth was several million years old.
    On the other hand, it was Edgar B. Heylmun Should We Teach Uniformitarianism? (1971) who claimed: "The fact is, the doctrine of uniformitarianism is no more ‘proved’ than some of the early ideas of world-wide cataclysms have been disproved." In fact, the actual facts or geology still favored catastrophism, and flood geology never died completely. Although the uniformitarian philosophers could point to certain difficulties in the Biblical geology of their predecessors, there were still greater difficulties in uniformitarianism.
    In fact, once uniformitarianism had served its purpose—namely, that of selling the scientific community and the general public on the great age of the earth—then geologists could again use local catastrophic processes whenever required for specific geologic interpretations. Stephen Gould has expressed it this way: "Methodological uniformitarianism was useful only when science was debating the status of the supernatural in its realm” (debating whether God had a part in the creation). Once that (God) was bypassed or eliminated, then uniformitarianism no longer served a purpose.
With adequate time now apparently available through the acceptance of an Earth billions of years old, assisted by man’s natural inclination to escape from God if possible, Darwin’s theory of evolution by chance variation and natural selection was eagerly accepted by the learned world. Pockets of scientific resistance in the religious community were quickly neutralized by key clerical endorsements of the "day-age theory," which seemingly permitted Christians to hang on to Genesis while at the same time riding the popular wave of long ages and evolutionary progress. For those fundamentalists who insisted that the creation week required a literal interpretation, the "gap theory" ostensibly permitted them to do so merely by inserting the geologic ages in an imaginary gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, thus ignoring their evolutionary implications.
With the advent and acceptance by geology of the geologic column, creationism seemed passé. On the other hand, it can be claimed that “fossilization is unnatural, abnormal , catastrophic, quick, unique, exceptional, and cataclysmic. And when we see fossilization world-wide, when we note that water is the agency that has presented the conditions for fossilization, then we must conclude that there was a world-wide water cataclysm in the past. After all, the geologic column is not a record of the coming of life, it is a record of its going, its departure, its demise.”
    To this argument, the scientific community is not naïve to all the evidence. Some simply shelve it or ignore it in order to maintain faith in uniformitarianism. Others have taken note and are now seriously questioning the doctrine that “the present is the key to the past.”
    At the same time, the Biblical Deluge was similarly shorn of scientific significance by reinterpreting it in terms of a "local flood" or, for those few people who insisted that the Genesis narrative required a universal inundation, a "tranquil flood." Charles Lyell himself proposed a worldwide tranquil flood that left no geological traces. This led to the belief that the Earth was transformed not by unimaginable catastrophes but by imperceptibly slow changes, many of which we can see around us today. Rain erodes mountains, while molten rock pushes up to create new ones. The eroded sediments form into layers of rock, which can later be lifted above sea level, tilted by the force of the uprising rock, and eroded away again.
    These changes are tiny, but with enough time they could produce vast changes. It was therefore argued that the Earth was vastly old—a sort of perpetual-motion machine passing through regular cycles of destruction and rebuilding that made the planet suitable for mankind.
    With the elimination of God in the equation, with the advent of an Earth billions of years old, and with the evidence of slow change obvious, the field of earth history was taken over almost completely by evolutionists.
In turn, this capitulation of the scientists to evolution was an enormous boon to the social revolutionaries, who could now proclaim widely that their theories of social change were grounded in natural science. For example, Karl Marx, Vladimir Illich Lenin and the Communists quickly aligned themselves with evolutionary geology and biology, Marx even asking to dedicate his Das Kapital to Charles Darwin.
    "However harshly a philosopher may judge this characterization of Marx’s theory (i.e., that Marxism unites science and revolution intrinsically and inseparably) an historian can hardly fail to agree that Marx’s claim to give scientific guidance to those who would transform society has been one of the chief reasons for his doctrine’s enormous influence." In fact, adherents of evolution all over the world have been deluded into thinking that communism must be true because it is based on the science of evolution—a totally indefensible position.
    However, the local-flood theory is even less defensible. The entire Biblical account of the Flood is absurd if read in a local-flood context. For example, there was obviously no need for any kind of an ark if the flood were only a local flood. Yet the Bible describes it as a huge vessel with a volumetric capacity which can be shown to be equal to that of over 500 standard railroad stock cars! According to the account, the ark floated freely over all the high mountains and finally came to rest, five months later, on the mountains of Ararat. The highest of these mountains today is 17,000 feet in elevation, and a flood which could cover such a mountain six months or more was no local flood!
Furthermore, God’s promise never to send such a flood again, sealed with the continuing testimony of the rainbow, has been broken again and again if the Flood was only a local flood, since local floods are seen throughout the world, from coastal flooding to very dangerous flash floods, which total over 8-billion dollars in the U.S. alone, and more than 120 deaths annually.
    The tranquil-flood theory is even more ridiculous. It is difficult to believe anyone could take it seriously and yet a number of modern evangelical geologists do believe in this idea. Even local floods are violent phenomena and uniformitarian geologists today believe they are responsible for most of the geologic deposits of the earth’s crust. A universal Flood that could come and go softly, leaving no geologic evidence of its passage, would require an extensive complex of miracles for its accomplishment. Anyone with the slightest understanding of the hydraulics of moving water and the hydrodynamic forces associated with it would know that a world-wide "tranquil" flood is about as reasonable a concept as a tranquil explosion!
(See the next post, “Once Upon a Time – Part III,” for a final look and understanding why it is critically important that science not eliminate the factuality of Noah’s Flood and replace it with some other theory)

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