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It is said that a British newspaper headline once announced “Fog Over Channel—Continent Isolated.” While the headline aptly and amusingly sums up Britain’s ambivalent relationship with its European neighbors, it has long been assumed that an earlier, more catastrophic event may have separated Britain from continental Europe. It may be presumed that a land bridge once existed long before the tunnel that links Folkestone and Calais, over which fauna and humans may have migrated to populate these islands. A recent report, trumpeted in British newspapers, suggests that the “bridge” may have disappeared a lot faster than previously thought.
This idea of Britain being cut off from mainland Europe in a time period of a day is not a new idea. One of us remembers reading about this a few years ago. The story then was that with the rising sea level due to the receding ice sheets (which were covering most of northern Europe as a result of the Ice Age), the low ground between what is now France and what is now England was flooded very quickly—perhaps in less time than a day. The story went that a group of hunter gatherers would have left their home in northern France in the morning to go collecting in southern England. When they tried to return in the evening, their pathway was blocked with water. That was the beginning of what is now the English Channel.
The latest idea goes further in that it is proposing that the split occurred as a result of a catastrophic event that it likens to “a biblical-style flood.” The use of the phrase “biblical-style flood” is noteworthy. It carries the assumption that the biblical flood was merely a very, very large flood, if it occurred at all. Yet we have frequently maintained that the biblical flood was a unique event, which covered the entire globe. There is much scientific evidence for such a worldwide Flood,1 but we will note for now that God promised after the Flood that He would never again send such a Flood. If the biblical Flood were merely a very large local event, then God has not kept His promise, because local floods have occurred many times. However, if the Flood were global and unique, then God has indeed kept His promise.
The latest report does not propose (nor would we) that the split of Britain from the rest of Europe occurred during the biblical Flood, as the split would have occurred after the sedimentary rocks that were laid down in the Flood had consolidated and after the Ice Age that occurred after the Flood. We can accept that there was a local catastrophic flood that caused this split, for the evidence seems overwhelming. Michael Oard has suggested a model of how the Flood may have triggered an Ice Age.2 Such an Ice Age could, as it retreated, have been a cause of many large local floods, as large lakes were temporarily dammed then breached.3
Dr. Sanjeev Gupta, of Imperial College, London, conducted a sonar survey of the English Channel and discovered the remains of a huge valley, running southwest from the Strait of Dover. He concluded that originally France and Britain were linked by a high ridge of chalk hills, running roughly between Dover and Calais. To the north was a freshwater lake, fed by rivers, and this deepened over thousands of years. The lake, hundreds of feet above sea level, finally overflowed the chalk ridge and swept down towards the Atlantic. The water washed away the soft chalk hills and left the British Isles a separate land mass. He has uncovered deep bowls, scour marks and piles of rubble on the seabed that he concludes would have been caused by a torrent of water. Dr. Gupta is quoted as saying, “In places, this valley is more than seven miles wide and 170 ft deep, with vertical sides. Its nearest geological parallels are found not on Earth but in the monumental flood terrains of the planet Mars. This suggests the valley was created by a catastrophic flood following the breaching of the Dover Strait and the sudden release of water from a giant lake to the north.”
It is interesting that Dr. Gupta refers to the supposed flood on Mars. Belief that the Mars flood happened seems to be so strong that it is now accepted as fact. It is not our purpose to cast doubt on such a Martian global flood, which may or may not have occurred, but Russell Humphreys’ comment on such a flood is apt:
If a planet which is presently dryer than the Gobi desert could once have been covered with water, then how much more possible would such a deluge be for the Earth—whose surface is three-quarters covered with water two miles deep?4
The same scientists, who accept a global flood on a dry world like Mars, believe that a global flood on the Earth is impossible!
Dr. Gupta has suggested, perfectly plausibly, that the huge canyon found in the Channel—seven miles wide, with vertical sides 170 feet high—could have formed quickly, in just a day. This ties in with comments made about the formation of the Grand Canyon, by people such as Dr. John Morris:
Yes, canyons can form rapidly. A good maxim to remember is, ‘It either takes a little water and a long time, or a lot of water and a short time.’ But then, we’ve never seen a canyon form slowly with just a little water. Whenever scientific observations are made, it’s a lot of water and a short time.5
Yet most secular scientists suggest that the Grand Canyon took thousands, if not millions, of years to form.
Though it is likely that the flood that isolated Europe from Britain was a post-Flood event, it nevertheless illustrates the power of floodwater, and provides support for the notion of such a worldwide Flood.
Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.