Uniformity and Catastrophism

Uniformity and Catastrophism (Concluded)

THE concept of uniformity has delayed the progress of geological science be cause, as we believe, the past history of the earth has experienced one major catastrophe episode that has been unrecognized.

THE concept of uniformity has delayed the progress of geological science be cause, as we believe, the past history of the earth has experienced one major catastrophe episode that has been unrecognized.

The uniformitarian needs, comparatively, only a small amount of water but a vast length of time. The catastrophist, on the other hand, needs great quantities of water but only a small span of time. We thus have a controversy between much water, little time on the one hand, and little water, much time on the other. What evidences exist that require the much water, little time theory for explanation and cannot be explained adequately by the little water, much time view? Several are listed below. The shortness of this article makes it impossible to deal with them more than superficially.

1. Uniform, far-reaching strata. When one stands on the brink of the Grand Canyon, he can see several flat-lying strata one upon the other. Some of these beds contain sea remains; others have evidences of terrestrial or fresh-water organisms. These sheets extend for scores and even hundreds of miles with relatively little change in composition, texture, and thickness. We look in vain in the world to find comparable beds being formed today. A sudden emergence of the sea bottom (or a rapid lowering of water) and a massive debouchment of terrestrial muds and sands over hundreds of thousands of square miles in some cases seems the only reasonable explanation.

2. Massive transport. Some beds not only have far-reaching extents but consist of massive rocks and boulders. Those who live in the West may have had the experience of hearing and even feeling the bumping, knocking, and clacking of rocks and boulders in a mountain stream when it is much swollen from snow melt or prolonged rains. The quantity and speed needed to trans port large and heavy objects precludes the action of small and sluggish streams. When such deposits are not confined to channels but are spread broadly in all directions for many miles, a catastrophic interpretation is necessary. Strata of conglomerates and breccias are common throughout the world among sedimentary rocks.

3. Large-scale depositional features. Gigantic examples of water-deposited features such as aluvial fans, deltas, bars, dunes, turbidites, et cetera are also common in the geological record. Along the flanks of mountain ranges the beds show a structure that suggests the laying down of sheets of sediments or giant aluvial fans by water on a scale much greater than the small streams and few large rivers that now break out from the mountains.

Wind or wave-formed dunes on a fantastic scale, not just on a single level but often level above level are a unique feature in many parts of the earth.

Examples of major bars, deltas, et cetera could also be cited but, taken all together, these put the theory of uniformity to a most difficult stretch.

4. Exaggerated small-scale depositional features. Of less significance but interesting are some unique evidences associated with sedimentary beds that are consider ably exaggerated beyond what one sees to day. I refer to such phenomena as mud cracks, ripple marks, sole marks, and edge wise conglomerates. In the Grand Canyon giant mud cracks are ex posed that are filled with sediments of the overlying bed. This situation gives us some interesting facts. It is obvious that the bed in which the cracks developed was drying out quickly from a sudden loss of water, and the material that makes up the over lying rock also was laid down quickly be fore the cracks were destroyed by break down and cave-in.

5. Uplift of mountain ranges. Geologists theorize that mountain systems arose slowly but there are distinct problems with this view. Using average rates of erosion, some of the ranges would have been eroded to base level long ago if they were as old as claimed. Folded mountains such as the European Alps, the Himalayan Mountains, and some portions of the Appalachian Mountains could hardly have been produced over a long period of time because of the accompanying erosion that would have erased them. A sudden breakup of the earth's crust and the resultant formation of mountains is a more realistic interpretation.

6. Mass burial and preservation. Many beds are fossiliferous, some more, some less. Not uncommon are sheets of sediments packed with animals or plants that extend for miles and contain millions and billions of organisms. These creatures are often remarkably well preserved. Burial of countless numbers of creatures, many with soft bodies, indicates rapid catastrophic conditions not comparable with the modern world. If one were to dredge rivers and lakes he would seldom find a fish scale remaining from the multitudinous fish that have lived and died. Yet some strata are identifiable by the numerous fish scales found therein over thousands of square miles. Mass slaughter of organ isms is a telling argument for a major disaster in the past.

7. Organic deposits. The great quantities of coal within the crust of the earth constitute one of the strongest arguments for catastrophism (Figure 9). The phenomenon had been difficult for geologists to ex plain. The peat-bog theory for the formation of coal is quite inadequate. Here again it is conspicuous that uniformity has not operated because deposits comparable to the coal beds are not forming in our present-day world. To produce coal of the thickness of some of the larger coal seams, bogs two to four thousand feet thick would be required. This is deeper than modern bogs by a factor of 48 to 80 times.

In addition to these evidences that I believe cannot be adequately explained outside of a flood catastrophe, there are a number that can be explained by little water, much time but are more satisfactorily accounted for by much water, little time. These will be enumerated with only brief comment.

1. Thickness of sedimentary deposits. Slow deposition, if given enough time, could accumulate thick deposits. However, such thick accumulations of strata would be the natural consequence of a worldwide deluge of water.

2. Excellent preservation. The unusual completeness of fossils in many levels from bottom to top and in all continents can be explained as local fortuitous burials that prevented the decay and breakup of the organisms, but much water, little time is the ideal environment to accomplish this.

3. Mass extinctions. Mass extinctions that have occurred in the past history of earth do not fit well into the scheme of uniformitarian geology. But they do fit well into the scheme of the deluge geologist.

4. Climatic changes. From the Cretaceous on down the geological column, with one possible exception in the Permian, most animal and plant fossils suggest world wide tropical or semitropical climate. Above the Cretaceous there is a change from the variable tropical to arctic climates of today. This appears more readily explained as a termination of a warm pre- Flood world and the commencement of the nonuniform post-Flood world of today.

5. Flood legends and

6. Dispersal patterns of ancient man and animals. The Biblical account of a universal flood and the repopulation of the earth from a Near East center are supported by these two final points. This necessarily very brief account of the evidences for a universal catastrophe of water can only serve to introduce the subject. I find the pieces of the geological puzzle fitting together into a picture quite different from that of conventional geology. No doubt it is due in part to the fact that earth scientists in general are using as a guide picture, a view based on uniformity; whereas, I am using as my guide picture the portrayal of earth history outlined in the Holy Scriptures. The verification of Biblical ancient history through archeology has been remarkable. Only the first eleven chapters of Genesis lack definite corroboration from extra-Biblical sources. Our faith in the first part of Genesis is based on the other portions of Old Testament historical narrative. The study of geology, unhampered by the concept of uniformity, gives further strength to our faith in the Creation and Flood accounts that God has chosen to place at the beginning of His inspired revelation to man.




Bretz, J. H. "The Channeled Scablands of the Columbia Plateau," Jour. Geology, 31:617-649, 1923.

"The Lake Missoula Floods and the Channeled Scabland," Jour. Geology, 77:404-543. 1969.

Flint, R. F. "Origin of the Cheney-Palouse Scabland Tract, Washington," Geol. Soc. America Bull. 50:661-680, 1938.

Lyell, Sir Charles. Principles of Geology, 2 vols. New York: D. Appleton, 1892.

Morris, Henry M. and John C. Whitcomb. The Genesis Flood. Philadelphia: The Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co., 1961, pp. 89-115.

Olson, Everett C. Introduction to J. Harlen Bretz's paper on "The Lake Missoula Floods and the Channeled Scabland," Jour. Geology, 77:503-504, 1969.

Rupke, N.A. "Prolegomena to a Study of Cataclysmal Sedimentation," Creation Research Society, Annual, 1966.

Steno. Nicolaus. "The Prodromus of Nicolaus Steno's Dissertation Concerning a Solid Body Enclosed by Process of Nature Within a Solid, Vniv. Michigan Studies, Humanistic Series, vol. XI, part II, 1916.

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August 1970

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