Genesis and Science

Genesis and Science (Concluded)

Note: This is the concluding article of this series by Robert H. Brown which is reproduced from the forthcoming book Creation—Accident or Design?

ROBERT H. BROWN Walla Walla College, Washington

In connection with speculation concerning an increase in the carbon-14/ carbon-12 ratio since the Genesis flood the relationship plotted in Figure 2 is of inter­est. The points of this plot are radiocarbon ages of one-centimeter-thick slices of peat from a vertical section in the central part of Draved Mose bog in South Jutland, Den­mark. The first point on the plot is for peat that lay at a mean height of 4.5 centi­meters above the underlying sand and has a radiocarbon age of 6,500 + or — 140 (Tauber, 1966).

All points plotted in Figure 2 would cluster around the straight portion of the solid line and the dashed extension of this portion if radiocarbon age had always been directly proportional to historical age and if the build-up rate of the bog, averaged over periods in the order of 100 years' duration, had been constant throughout the history of the profile. Since radiocarbon age has been demonstrated to correlate closely with historical age over the past 3,500 years, the data at hand indicate that during this period until at least 700 years ago the center of the bog Draved Mose has been building up uniformly at an average rate of 0.600 millimeter per year. Considering the various factors involved in peat-bog development, it is surprising to find evidence for a uniform build-up over so large a portion of post-Genesis-flood his­tory.

The average build-up rate at the center of Draved Mose bog appears to have been only 0.125 millimeter per 6000 B.P. radio­carbon year during the initial accumula­tion under Pollen-zone VII conditions, ap­proximately one fifth the average build-up rate since 3500 B.P. In seeking to interpret the data presented in Figure 2 an individ­ual who is not following the Bible guide­lines can postulate equivalence between radiocarbon age and historical age over the range of available data and infer initial relatively slow growth of the peat over a 2,000-year period.

One can also postulate initial bog growth-rate equal to or greater than that which has been characteristic over the last 3,500 years and infer that the carbon-14/carbon-12 ratio in the atmosphere increased by pos­sibly as much as 50 per cent during the time the first 75 centimeters of the central bog section was built up.

A deeper portion of this bog in another site contains Pollen-zone V material, which increased 40 centimeters in thickness (as presently measured) during a 565-radio­carbon-year interval beginning 8,730 + or —160 radiocarbon years B.P. (Tauber, 1966, pp. 215, 216). The average build-up rate for this older material is approximately 0.7 millimeter per 8500 B.P. radiocarbon year.

Because of large variations to be expected in the conditions affecting the development of a peat bog, one should anticipate a wide variety of radiocarbon age versus bog thick­ness profiles. Analysis of the limited data presently available confirms this anticipa­tion. A few profiles have been found which indicate relatively rapid growth per radio­carbon year prior to 3000-4000 B.P. (in­verse to the pattern represented in Figure 2). The most probable type appears to be either one which is approximately a straight line or one which indicates relatively less rapid build-up per radiocarbon year during earlier growth as illustrated by Draved Mose. The Draved Mose data is compatible with a model for ancient climatic and at­mospheric changes which involves initial relatively rapid bog build-up during a period which combines favorable moist cli­matic conditions with an increasing relative amount of atmospheric carbon-14. A more rapid initial growth rate than that experi­enced by Draved Mose could produce a straight-line or inverted profile of radio­carbon age versus bog thickness during a period of increasing relative amount of at­mospheric carbon-14. Detailed studies of a large number of peat bogs with this model in mind would be desirable.

While there is at present no scientific data to prove that any of the changes listed below have taken place, it is worth noting that each one is within the range of possi­bility and would increase the relative amount of radioactive carbon in the at­mosphere over its pre-Flood level: reduction of earth's magnetic field from a pre-Flood intensity that kept most of the primary cos­mic ray particles from interacting with the atmosphere; loss of an outer region of water vapor which absorbed primary cosmic rays and cosmic-ray-produced neutrons before they had opportunity to react with nitrogen in the atmosphere; removal by rains during and after the Mood of a large portion of the carbon dioxide characteristic of the pre-Flood atmosphere and conversion of this carbon dioxide to precipitated carbonates and car­bonates carried in solution by the post-Flood oceans. (It has been reliably esti­mated that the carbon in the earth that is not presently contained in minerals or fos­sils is distributed 86.2 per cent in solution in the oceans in a chemical form not directly associated with organic material, 8.7 per cent in organic material contained in the oceans, 3.5 per cent associated with organic life on land, and 1.6 per cent in the atmos­phere— (Dyck, 1966.) Given the necessary changes in the carbon reservoir and/or the production rate of carbon-14, the historical requirements of the book of Genesis allow ample time for a transition from pre-Flood conditions to the contemporary carbon-14 specific activity level by the time of Moses, since the average residence time of carbon-14 in the atmosphere is approximately ten years and the mixing time of the carbon dioxide exchange reservoir is about twenty-five years (Libby, 1966-1; Schell, et al., 1966).

The development of radioactive dating with carbon-14 has brought both support and problems to believers in a short dura­tion of life on the earth. It is well to keep in mind the principle so well stated in the last three paragraphs of Patriarchs and Prophets, pages 115 and 116:

"Science . . . brings nothing from her re­search that conflicts with divine revelation. . . . The book of nature and the written word shed light on each other. . . . Those who take the written word as their coun­selor will find in science an aid to understand God." Continuing investigation of radioactive dating may be expected to bring greater harmony between the information God has given to us through the Written Word and the natural world.

(See May issue for supplementary notes on these articles.)

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ROBERT H. BROWN Walla Walla College, Washington

April 1968

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