There’s no doubt about it: the best place to see, test, and put together all these ideas about stacks of fossil-bearing rock is the Grand Canyon.1 The Grand Canyon is an awesome gash in the earth, running for over 250 miles (400 km) along the Colorado River in the northwest corner of Arizona. The Canyon is about a mile (1.6 km) deep, and averages about 10 miles (16 km) from north to south rims. The walls of the narrow, zig-zag inner gorge expose tilted and faulted Precambrian rock, while the walls of the outer and upper gorge are streaked with thick, colorful, horizontal bands of fossil-bearing rock, representing roughly the “bottom half” of the geologic column.
I once believed and taught, like so many others, that the rock layers in the Grand Canyon represented stages in evolution laid down over vast eons of time. After leading over 40 week-long backpacking trips through the canyon, studying the rock layers and fossils close-up, I’m ready to stake the place out with Bible verses! What I once assumed was a record of a lot of time, now looks like evidence of a lot of water instead!
Actually, the canyon seems to provide an excellent contrast between rocks laid down slowly and gradually on a local scale and those laid down rapidly and catastrophically on a colossal scale. Evolutionists have argued that fossil-bearing rocks were largely laid down in local floods and/or by rivers dumping sediments into lakes or seas. Those processes do build up sediment layers; the Mississippi River, the classic example, is continuing to build up its delta right before our eyes.
When the Mississippi is flowing full and fast (often after spring rains and snow melt), gravel is carried relatively far. Later, often during the drier summer season, the river slows, so that sand is dumped where gravel was, then silt on the sand. Such slow and gradual processes produce “lumpy” sediment layers that thicken and thin over short distances and contain virtually no fossils.
Actually, the Precambrian sedimentary rocks in the inner gorge probably do represent sediment laid down somewhat slowly and gradually. Like Mississippi delta deposits, these units thicken and thin, disappear and reappear, over short distances, and they contain very few fossils. They don’t have the layer-cake appearance—deep and wide horizontal bands of fossil-rich rocks—characteristic of broad and rapid flood deposits. Instead, they have the swirl-cake appearance—lumps of fossil-poor rock—like the sediment layers being produced at the mouth of the Mississippi River right now. To biblical creationists/Flood geologists, the Precambrian rocks at the Grand Canyon look like pre-Flood rocks formed by processes occurring like those today during the many centuries before the Flood.
Then the Flood came! There are still countless research projects to be done and questions to be answered, but let me share with you a simple model for the basic formation of the Grand Canyon, that ties together most of the ideas we’ve been discussing. Please treat these ideas as a stimulus to thinking, not, by any means, as the last word on the Grand Canyon.
Although most people relate the Flood to “40 days and 40 nights of rain,” the Bible (Gen. 7) says that the Flood began when “the fountains of the great deep burst forth.” It seems that most of the water came from below, not from above. Few people realize what a tremendous amount of water is found in molten rock (magma) trapped beneath the earth’s surface! When a hole or crack develops in the solid rock capping the more liquid magma, the pressure release causes the super-super hot water to flash into steam, and “BOOM” we have an upward-outward rush of vapor, gas, dust, and ash, producing a volcanic explosion and/or an outpouring of liquid rock on the surface (lava)! A geologist looking for a way to start a worldwide flood could hardly come up with a better mechanism than breaking up the “fountains of the great deep!”
As the volcanic fountains opened up in what is now the Grand Canyon area, the colossally stupendous force just pushed the pre-Flood rock aside and tilted it up. The Precambrian rocks in the inner gorge are indeed cracked and tilted, and igneous intrusions cut across and between them, marking, I am suggesting, the beginning of Noah’s flood, recorded for our study.
The first Flood current in the area came with such tremendous force that it sheared oﬀ the tilted Precambrian rocks in virtually a straight line, producing the so-called “angular unconformity” and “great unconformity” diagrammed in Figure 34. Science tells us that the tilt-and-shear could not have happened slowly and gradually. One of the tilted units (the reddish Hakatai Shale) is so soft and crumbly you can dig it out with your fingernails. Another is so incredibly hard (the Shinumo Quartzite) that researchers can barely knock oﬀ a piece with a hammer. Had the rocks been tilted up slowly and eroded gradually by raindrops and rivers, the crumbly rock would be all gone, leaving valleys, and the hard unit would stick up in ridges and hillocks. Instead, it looks as if the Flood current that eventually deposited the Tapeats came in with such titanic force that the hard and soft rocks were sheared oﬀ almost equally in a nearly straight line.
Actually, the Shinumo Quartzite is so hard that parts of it do occasionally stick up into the Tapeats, but the force of the Flood was so great that it broke oﬀ huge boulders of this incredibly hard rock, picked the boulders up, and carried them miles (kilometers) away before finally dropping them! Wow! Even the Colorado River today, a classic example of strength and power, is unable to move lesser boulders downstream from the mouths of its side canyons.
Once the Flood got started, it began to deposit rock layers deep and wide and full of fossils, the “layer-cake” eﬀect characteristic of floods—but on a scale far greater than anything recorded by human observers (except Noah and his family).
We do get some inkling of the kind of geological processes involved from the study of underwater landslides called turbidity currents. In 1929, an earthquake loosened sediment lying on the sea floor oﬀ Newfoundland near the continental slope. The loosened sediment roared down the slope at freeway speeds, up to 60 miles (100 km) per hour! How do we know? The dense, muddy slurry flowing along the bottom severed transatlantic telephone cables one after the other, so the time of travel could be calculated from the time telephone service stopped on each line. The roaring sediment spread out over the deep ocean’s abyssal plain, covering an area of hundreds of square miles (kms) in a matter of hours! Many boulder flows, megabreccias, and other deposits which once mystified geologists are now interpreted, even by evolutionists, as huge layers deposited rapidly by turbidity currents. Some evolutionists estimate that perhaps 40 percent of the geologic column was formed by these stupendous flows!
When biblical creationists/Flood geologists oﬀer explanations for the rock layers in the Grand Canyon, they appeal neither to biblical authority (the Bible doesn’t mention the Grand Canyon!) nor to mystical or supernatural processes. They appeal, instead, directly to the evidence we can see, touch, and measure. That evidence seems to suggest that processes we do understand, like turbidity currents, explain what we see—except that the evidence also tells us that the scale was regional, continental, or even global, not just local, and it was fast!
Consider this dramatic statement from the secular (evolutionary) textbook by Levine that I have used with my college earth science classes.
Many channels on Mars dwarf our own Grand Canyon in size, and in order to form, would have required torrential floods so spectacular as to be hard to visualize by earth standards.
Note three things: First, it’s normal for a scientist to interpret channels like the Grand Canyon in terms of flooding. Second, it’s possible for a scientist to accept cataclysmic flooding on a planet that presently has little or no surface water. Third, a scientist can infer from the evidence left behind “torrential” and “spectacular” flooding on a scale far greater than anything ever recorded in scientific journals! Certainly there’s nothing unscientific about inferring a colossal flood at the Grand Canyon from the evidence on a planet (Earth) whose surface is drenched in water!
I’ve mentioned that, because of the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence, many evolutionists are now calling themselves neo-catastrophists. They want nothing to do with old-fashioned catastrophism (Noah’s flood!), but they agree that most layers of fossil-bearing rock were produced rapidly and broadly by flooding on a catastrophic scale, what Derek Ager compared to “short periods of terror” in the life of a soldier.
It’s these short periods of terror, it seems, that caught plants and animals oﬀ guard, buried them too deeply and quickly for them to escape or to be obliterated by scavengers, and turned them into fossils. Clams and snails, for example, are not normally knocked dead and fossilized by a few sand grains or even by huge shifts of sand induced by hurricanes, but zillions were buried and fossilized, it seems, in the first overwhelming deposits of “Flood mud.”
At the Grand Canyon, as around the world, the “first” or “deepest” layer to contain an abundance of fossil remains is called the Cambrian geologic system. As discussed earlier, these Cambrian “stones cry out” for creation! Instead of a few simple life forms, hard to classify and apparently thrown together by time and chance, as an evolutionist might expect, we find a dazzling variety of complex life forms, apparently well-designed to multiply after kind: clams, snails, lampshells, echinoderms, and the most complex of all invertebrates, the nautiloids (“shelled squids”), with an eye that sees the world as we do, and the trilobites, with their geometrically marvelous compound eyes.
Why should Cambrian deposits contain only (or almost only) the remains of sea creatures? A professor debating me in Australia put it this way: “If God created everything in six days, why don’t we find mice with trilobites in Cambrian rocks?” My simple reply: “Because mice don’t live on the sea floor.” Ecology, not evolution, is the key. (He then said he meant his question only as a joke.)
Many people have the completely mistaken notion that the biblical flood covered the whole earth almost instantly, stirred everything up, and then suddenly dumped it all. Not at all! According to the biblical record, Noah was in the ark for over a year. It was about five months before “all the high mountains under the whole heaven” were covered, and it took several more months for the water to subside as “the mountains rose up and the valleys sank down” at the end of the Flood. As the Flood waters “slowly” rose over the earth, plants and animals were buried in a sort of ecologic series: sea-bottom creatures, near-shore forms, lowland plants and animals, then upland (with sea creatures deposited from bottom to top, as the sea eventually covered everything). Evolutionists and Flood geologists may agree that the fossil-bearing rocks were laid down in “short periods of terror,” but Flood geologists see the “long periods of boredom” between layers as minutes or months, not millions of years!
Indeed, once the rock layers at the Grand Canyon began to stack up, it seems they “forgot” all about “evolutionary time.” In one small step (especially small with a heavy backpack!), a hiker can step right across “150 million years” of “missing evolutionary time”! I’m talking about the contact between the Muav and Redwall Limestones (Figure 34).
The Muav is Cambrian (supposedly, “evolution stage 1”), while the Redwall is Mississippian or lower Carboniferous (“evolution stage 5”). If the Grand Canyon is assumed to represent stages in evolution laid out for all to see, where are evolutionary stages 2, 3, and 4 (Ordovician, Silurian, and Devonian)? Evolutionists recognize that’s a serious question. Grandparents can’t have grandchildren without first having children, and plants and animals can’t evolve directly from stage 1 to stage 5 without evolving through stages 2, 3, and 4 first. Everyone agrees that in any “chain of life,” you can’t skip generations!
Evolutionists recognize the problem of rock layers (“150 million years’ worth”) missing from the Grand Canyon—but they also have a ready solution to the problem: erosion. Stage 2, 3, and 4 rocks really were deposited, they suggest, but they were uplifted and eroded away; then stage 5 rock (Mississippian Redwall) was laid down directly on top of stage 1 rock (Cambrian Muav). It’s as if erosion tore out three chapters from the story of evolution.
That evolutionary argument is certainly logical and potentially correct. We see erosion erasing rock layers today, and we can infer that erosion also did so in the past. So evolutionists went looking for evidence of erosion, but they were honest enough to admit that they did not find it, at least not on a suﬃcient scale.
When a rock layer is eroded slowly and gradually by streams and rivers, as discussed earlier, an irregular surface is produced. When sediment later accumulates on this surface and hardens, the wavy contact line produced is called a disconformity, and often old stream beds may be identified along its surface. That’s not what we find at the Redwall/Muav (Mississippian/Cambrian) contact. Over hundreds of miles of exposure in and out of various side canyons, the two rock layers are in smooth, horizontal contact. There are occasional small erosional dips called Temple Butte Devonian, but the regional picture is clear: it looks like one rock layer was deposited directly on top of the other with very little time break. According to the evidence, those “150 million years” never existed at all!2
If there were strong evidence for 150 million years of erosion, geologists would call the contact a disconformity. Because the evidence suggests, instead, smooth, continuous deposition with little time break, the contact should be called a conformity. Admitting a 150-million-year “hole” in evolutionary theory would be far too diﬃcult for most evolutionists, so they use the contact term we discussed earlier: paraconformity. Flood geologists just accept the evidence as it stands: no 150 million years. Evolution requires 150 million years at that point, hence, the term “paraconformity” is oﬀered, not as a solution to the problem of all that missing time, but as a label for a problem to be solved by future research.
Evolutionists believe that other evidence for evolution is so strong that paraconformities can be regarded as just minor glitches in an otherwise convincing story. That’s exactly how I dealt with “minor mysteries” when I believed and taught evolution. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that approach, but note that it’s an act of faith, not science. Flood geologists can simply accept the directly observable evidence for rapid, continuous deposition, the more scientific choice at this point.
Another scientific triumph for creationists/Flood geologists lies just above the missing “150 million years.” In another research breakthrough that earned him further grudging respect from evolutionary antagonists, Dr. Steve Austin documented the rapid, catastrophic death of perhaps four billion nautiloids and other sea creatures preserved in a six-foot (2 m) bed near the base of the Redwall Limestone. In one dramatic pulse, a colossal sandy debris flow buried fossils along a path at least 135 miles (217 km) long and 30 miles (50 km) wide, stretching from the east end of the Grand Canyon westward past Las Vegas. As of this writing, multiple research papers are being prepared, as well as proposals for permits to do further research in the canyon.3
There’s further evidence to encourage Flood geologists to think that they have made the correct scientific choice. If individual sediment layers were hardened, uplifted, eroded, then covered again with water, it’s likely that the lower hardened layers would crack in a pattern diﬀerent from cracks formed in layers above them, and produced and moved millions of years later. In other words, there should be “buried faults,” cracks through one layer not continuing into the layer above, but there are virtually no buried faults above the Precambrian in the Grand Canyon. There are faults, all right, but they cut continuously through the whole sequence of Paleozoic layers present (Cambrian, Mississippian, Pennsylvanian, and Permian), not just part of it. That evidence suggests the whole “layer cake” was formed rapidly and continuously, without a major break in time—just as you would expect from understanding the Grand Canyon in terms of what the Bible says about Noah’s flood.
Then we come to the Coconino Sandstone. Above the Redwall are several other major layers (Supai Group, Hermit Shale, Coconino Sandstone, Toroweap Formation, and Kaibab Limestone, as shown in Figure 34). All these were obviously laid down as water-borne sediment (i.e., flood deposits)—except the Coconino. The Coconino is a cross-bedded sandstone usually interpreted as a huge desert dune deposit.
Why did I have to bring that up? I’ve been trying to encourage you to think about the horizontal bands of the Grand Canyon rock as a “layer cake” formed by global flooding. How could 400–600 feet (125–185 m) of desert dune get sandwiched between two layers of sediment deposited during the year of Noah’s flood?
The first time someone asked me that question, I didn’t know what to say. Admitting the problem, I sputtered something about how the Bible talks about a great wind that blew over the earth as the Flood subsided, but then I also admitted that the layers above the Coconino suggested the Flood was still depositing.
Then somebody reminded me of what I should have known already: dunes also form underwater. Ripple marks in sand at the beach are just “mini-dunes,” and my students and I have actually watched much bigger dunes form and travel underwater while on scuba dives (in rough seas) to the Florida Keys. The weight of evidence now favors the formation of the Coconino as an underwater dune deposit. Most telling is the work by Dr. Leonard Brand on the abundant animal trackways for which the Coconino is famous.4
In this case, my confidence in Flood geology was confirmed by further research. It remains to be seen whether the evolutionist’s confidence will ever be encouraged by further study of paraconformities. There are surely many other questions to be researched, but the weight of evidence we have available now (and that’s as far as science can go) seems to suggest strongly that the horizontal rock layers at the Grand Canyon were formed rapidly, not by a lot of time, but by a lot of water instead!
If the rock layers got stacked up under water, we have another problem. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is now over 8,000 feet (over 2,500 m) above sea level. How did that happen? How did the rock layers end up far above sea level, and where did that big gash, the canyon itself that cuts through all those layers, come from?
The Bible tells us that at the end of the Flood “the mountains rose up and the valleys sank down.” An evolutionist friend of mine once told me that the best evidence he knew for the creation/corruption/catastrophe model was that any land existed at all on the earth. If our planet had spun down from a gas cloud, he said, the outer layers would consist of basaltic ocean crust (density 3.5g/cm3), covered by a concentric layer of granite (3.0 g/cm3), the whole thing covered by over 2 miles (3 km) of water (density 1.0 g/cm3)! He said it looked as if “someone with big hands” (the closest he could come to saying “God”) took the granite and shoved it up into a pile to form the dry land. Then he added that the “guy with big hands” was also smart enough to thin the basalt under the granite piles to maintain the earth in gravitational balance (isostasy) so that it wouldn’t fracture as it rotated.
Perhaps God did use supernatural means to raise the land after the Flood as He did on the third day of the creation week. Or perhaps He used secondary means not yet discovered. A biblical creationist/Flood geologist would never want to rule out God’s direct supernatural intervention (our salvation and resurrection depend on it!), but neither would he or she appeal to supernatural processes unless logic or the evidence clearly pointed in that direction. Actually, neither creationist nor evolutionist is satisfied with present models for “upwarp” and “downwarp,” moving big chunks of land above and below sea level.
However the land was raised, the next question is this: Where did the canyon itself come from? The Flood may have stacked the rock like a giant layer cake, but what cut the cake?
One thing is for sure: the Colorado River did not do it. The Colorado River starts about 12,000 feet (ca. 3,500 m) up in the Rocky Mountains of western Colorado. By the time it gets to the Grand Canyon area, it’s at about 5,000 feet (1,500 m). That’s the problem. The Grand Canyon is definitely not a lowland valley. The North Rim of the canyon is over 8,000 feet (2,500 m) high! For the Colorado River to carve the canyon, it would first have to hack its way half a mile (over 700 m) uphill! Water just doesn’t do that, especially when there’s the opportunity to flow downhill in a diﬀerent direction. For this and several other reasons, even evolutionary geologists no longer believe that the river slowly cut the canyon over 60 million years.
The Kaibab upwarp (monocline) through which the canyon is cut seems to have dammed up a great deal of water. It is possible to map the outlines of giant “fossil lakes” that once covered parts of Arizona, Colorado, and Utah. Since there seems to be no renewable source for such a vast amount of water, it may have been “leftover” Flood water trapped as the mountains rose and valleys sank. Post-Flood rains and snow melt would have added more water behind this “Grand Dam.”
Then the dam broke! Water rushing through the breached dam formed “cavitation bubbles” which act like hand grenades to shatter rock on contact. When water released through spillways at a man-made Grand Canyon dam reached cavitation speed, it ate through the steel-reinforced concrete tubes in seconds. Water pouring through the breach in the natural, earthen “Grand Dam” would have cut the essential features of the canyon very rapidly indeed. The Colorado River is just a modest trickle caught in the twists and turns where the dam was breached. The canyon came first; the river came second.5
Now, if the evidence is as clear and simple as I’m suggesting it is, then even evolutionary geologists who were totally unwilling even to consider my biblical conclusions could at least accept the individual points as scientifically logical—and they do.
Consider Harlan Bretz. For years and years, he studied the “Channeled Scablands” of eastern Washington, an area of 15,000 square miles (40,000 km2). It looks as if a giant, braided stream cut channels up to 900 feet (275 m) deep in hard basaltic lava (much harder to cut than most of the Grand Canyon layers). Bretz postulated that a tongue of glacial ice blocked oﬀ what we now call the Columbia River near Spokane, damming up a huge body of water called glacial Lake Missoula. Then the ice dam broke. According to Bretz, the stupendous drainage from that lake cut the essential features of those channels 900 feet (275 m) deep over 15,000 square miles (40,000 km2) in—one or two million years?—no, in “a day or two.” That’s the conclusion presented by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in its pamphlet6 “The Channeled Scablands: the Story of the Great Spokane Flood.”
At first, the “slow and gradual” school of evolutionary thinking (uniformitarians) laughed Bretz to scorn, but after examining his evidence, a team of geologists decided Bretz was right after all, and they gave him geology’s highest award, the Penrose Medal. In accepting the award, Bretz said that his greatest contribution to geology was reviving the idea that great catastrophes have shaped the physical features of the earth (neo-catastrophism).7
Less dramatic in scale, but directly and awesomely visible, was the second modern eruption of Mount St. Helens in June of 1982. The heat generated from that explosion melted frozen mud, producing a mud flow that filled up the North Fork of the Toutle River. The smoke cleared five days later to reveal that the mud flow had eroded a zigzag main channel with many sharply tapered side canyons. Horizontal bands of sediment, some thick, and some exceedingly fine, lined the walls of the newly formed canyon. Right before our eyes, a small volcano (which never even produced a lava flow) had stacked up horizontal bands of sediment and cut channels, forming a 1/40th size “scale model” of the Grand Canyon in just five days! All sorts of features once thought to take millions of years were formed, instead, by a lot of water in just five days! My wife and I got to see it on a dizzying flight down the length of that “Little Grand Canyon.” (See Morris7 and Figure 35.)
Although very dramatic, both the Channeled Scablands and Mount St. Helens are quite modest events compared to the epic geologic work that would have been done by a global flood like that described in the Bible. The stupendous events that shaped the Grand Canyon are summarized in detail in Grand Canyon: Monument to Catastrophe (book and video8) and in a beautiful, easily readable coﬀee table book edited by canyon raft captain Tom Vail, Grand Canyon: a Different View.10 (The latter was singled out for “negative discussion” by Dan Rather on the CBS evening news in 2004, but it’s “selling like hotcakes” at the Grand Canyon bookstore!)
At least the worldwide evidence is now so clear that even evolutionists are talking about worldwide catastrophes. The most highly touted is supposed to be an asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs and a host of other life forms. Scientists have calculated that if an ocean were hit by an asteroid about 6 miles (10 km) across (and several that size pass near earth’s orbit!), a wave of water would slosh over all the continents and bring nearly instant destruction on an unimaginable scale!
The Bible doesn’t say whether God used secondary agents, such as an asteroid impact, to trigger the Flood. Either way, it’s encouraging to see that evolutionists recognize the evidence that points toward global catastrophe. Indeed, some evolutionists now believe the earth has suﬀered multiple global catastrophes, and I mentioned that others even see evidence of colossal flooding on Mars, a planet that presently has no significant surface water!
The asteroid catastrophes some evolutionists postulate are dramatic, and so is the biblical narrative, as it tells how “all the high mountains under the whole heaven” were once covered with water. If that were so, we ought to find billions of dead things buried in rock layers laid down by water all over the earth. Grab your pick and shovel and go looking, and what do you find? Billions of dead things buried in rock layers laid down by water all over the earth! Right up to sea creatures fossilized in the high Himalayas, it looks like the scientific evidence in God’s world encourages us to trust the Bible as God’s Word!11
Sometimes, I imagine a geologist who has spent 20 years roaming through the Grand Canyon. Finally, he decides to take a break and hike up to the rim. There, on a park bench, he finds a Bible. As he opens it and reads the first few chapters, he jumps excitedly to his feet:
Eureka! I’ve found it! That’s what I’ve been seeing here in the Grand Canyon!
Now I know why the first forms of life to leave an abundance of fossil remains are so complex and varied, and classify into groups like we have today. They were created well-designed to multiply after their kinds.
Now I know why the ‘geologic column’ shows a decline in variety, even extinction, for so many groups. We’re not looking at a record of evolutionary progress, but a record of death—a corruption of the world God had created all very good. The Grand Canyon is really a vast, open graveyard.
Now I know how fossils were preserved, how the Precambrian rocks were tilted up and sheared oﬀ, how the huge Tapeats boulders were moved great distances, why 150 million mythical years are missing at the great paraconformity, how trackways were preserved in the Coconino, and why the Colorado River is trapped in the sharp curves of the canyon. We’re not looking at a record of a lot of time, but of a lot of water—the tremendous worldwide catastrophe of Noah’s flood!
Now I know I can look to Christ to raise me to new life. Nobody could ever have survived the awesome destruction of the world we see reflected at the Grand Canyon. If Christ could save Noah from the Flood, he can save me from death, too!
When I started working on my doctoral minor in geology, I really thought my study would make it very hard to accept the simple truths and promises in the Bible. My excellent professors all believed evolution, but what I learned about fossils made it hard to believe evolution and very easy to believe what the Bible teaches about creation, corruption, catastrophe, and Christ!
We find evidence of creation not only in the design and complexity of the “first” fossils found of each group, but also in the wonderfully constructed “language” of DNA; in the intricate way a baby develops in his or her mother’s womb according to the plan fully present at conception; in the similarities that point to a “common Creator,” not common ancestry, in classification; in marvelously interdependent adaptations, like those of the woodpecker; in the incredible variability, like all the human skin tones, stored in the first parents of each created kind.
We find evidence of corruption, the way God’s creation was ruined by man’s self-centered arrogance, not only in the death, decline, and extinction seen in all the fossil groups, but also in the eﬀects of mutations producing disease, disease organisms, and other defects, and in the struggle to the death that is an essential part of Darwinian selection.
Evidence of a great catastrophe, like the worldwide flood described for Noah’s time, is clear from the billions of dead things buried as fossils, extinction, rapid formation of huge sediment layers by turbidity currents, polystratic fossils that cut through many rock layers without evidence of falling over or rotting, paraconformities (vast amounts of supposed evolutionary time missing without evidence or erosion), the tilting and shearing and boulder flows in the Grand Canyon, etc., etc.
All the above can be inferred directly from the scientific evidence, although it’s the Bible that really puts these together in a pattern of meaning. Evolution is based on genetics that have never been observed and fossils that have never been found. The Bible is supported by laws of heredity we put into practice every day and on thousands of tons of fossils buried in rock layers laid down by water all over the earth.
In short, evolution is a faith that the facts have failed. Biblical Christianity is a faith that fits the facts.12
As I told you in the beginning, I didn’t always believe that. It took me three years of trying to “prove” evolution to two colleagues, professors of chemistry and biology, before I saw that the scientific evidence available disproves the traditional view of evolution taught as “fact” to millions of young people worldwide. Does that mean I’ve proved creation? Not at all. Contrary to a popular misconception, scientists can only disprove or support a theory, never prove it. As every working scientist knows, you can never tell when some new discovery will shift support to a competing theory. People (including scientists!) are finite, limited by space and time. As finite creatures, we must live by faith; there is no other choice.
We can choose the object of our faith. We can put our faith in our own opinions or the words of “experts,” as I did through my first several years of teaching university biology. Or we can put our faith in the Word of the Living God, who stands outside our limits of space and time. Only God can tell us what is truly true, now and forever.
The diﬀerence between evolution and the Bible is certainly evident when we look back at where we’ve come from, but the diﬀerence is even greater when we consider where we’re going! I once let my students watch two well-known evolutionists on a TV talk show that aired during class time. The audience wanted to know, “What does the future hold?” The fossil expert said the fate of essentially every species is extinction, and that mankind, too, would someday become extinct. The audience broke into applause, although I’ve never figured out what’s so wonderful about becoming extinct! When they asked the evolutionist astronomer about the future, his reply was that one day the sun would expand and all life on earth would be burned to death, and again the audience broke into applause.
However, the Bible oﬀers a more lively hope! The same God in Christ who created us, is the same God who did not turn away from us when we turned away from Him. Indeed, Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our rebellion, died to conquer death, and rose again to raise those who believe to new and eternal life in Him.
Jesus himself asked, “How can you believe me when I tell you heavenly things if you don’t believe me when I tell you earthly things?” (John 3:12). Science shows us we can trust the Bible when it tells us earthly things about creation, corruption, and catastrophe. That encourages us to trust the “fourth C,” Jesus Christ, for the promise of a new and abundant life now and forever, and of a “new heaven and new earth,” where God will “wipe away every tear” and restore the creation to the way He made it for us in the beginning: a garden of Eden, a garden of delight. Then once again, “the wolf also shall dwell with the lamb . . . and a little child shall lead them . . . . They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:6–9).
It’s a wonderful, wonderful story, full of love and meaning for each person on earth, and what we see in God’s world encourages us to trust the Bible as God’s Word. Then those wonderful promises can be ours, guaranteed by the power of the Lord God, maker of heaven and earth, the God of all people, all times, and all places. If God made us, we can trust Him to make us anew! Won’t you choose to trust Him now?
The study of science oﬀers more than science lessons. There are spiritual lessons as well.