Originally published in Creation 16, no 1 (December 1993): 14-15.
Is the earth really young? After all, he had just come back from touring the caves of Western Australia’s south-west, and had seen all those stalactites.
Some months previously I had purchased Dr Michael Denton’s book, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis. My friend read the book in little over a week and came back rejoicing. All his questions had been answered, and there was renewed faith in the inerrancy of Scripture.
But he still had a question. Is the earth really young? After all, he had just come back from touring the caves of Western Australia’s south-west, and had seen all those stalactites. Didn’t they prove the earth was many thousands, or even millions, of years old?
I told him to come with me to see some buildings on campus where substantial stalactites were growing. I asked whether he thought these had taken many thousands of years to form, or whether perhaps it was a creationist trick to glue them to the undersides of the buildings.
While this article was being prepared for Creation magazine, the Herald Sun newspaper in Melbourne (Australia) reported another occurrence of rapid-forming stalactites.
The Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne has been crumbling because of water seepage. Parts of it are in danger of caving in if it is not repaired quickly.
The Herald Sun’s photographer took pictures of the lower parts of the building, including photos of many stalactites and stalagmites which have grown beneath the building since it was constructed in 1934.
Journalist Michael Harvey said, ‘Massive vaults beneath the terraces resemble the interior of limestone caves with constant dripping of water producing thousands of stalactites and stalagmites.’
These ‘thousands of stalactites and stalagmites’ have all grown within the 59 years since the shrine was built.
I remember raising the question of stalactite growth rates at a lecture in my undergraduate days, only to be told that stalactites growing from buildings were different to those forming in caves because the concrete offered a ready supply of material and there was enhanced water flow at localized sites because of redirection of water by the building’s drainage system. But similar conditions apply for every stalactite cave. (More information on stalactite growth rates appeared in Creation magazine, Vol. 9 No. 4.)
Job 12:8: ‘Speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee …’. Stalactites are growing everywhere … shopping centres, schools, universities, and even in multi-storey car parks.
Whenever you see a white stalactite hanging from a building, look for yourself and see how many thousands of years old you think that building is.