Science and Religion

Laboratory experiment demonstrates that time is no longer a problem.

Clyde L. Webster, Jr., Ph.D., is chairman of the chemistry department at Loma Linda University, Riverside, California. Prior to joining the Loma Linda University faculty, he was engaged in private industry and research on mineral deposits.


Individuals who interpret the Bible on a direct grammatical-historical basis generally believe in universal destruction associated with a worldwide flood and in a "short" time period for life on this planet. Yet, when the sciences that re late to such beliefs are investigated, one is faced with evidence that does not seem to harmonize with Scripture. How can this conflict be resolved? Shouldn't there be agreement between the revelations of God in the natural world and in Scripture? Is there evidence outside of the Bible for a worldwide flood? Is there evidence that the currently popular estimates of geologic time could be incorrect?

I believe there is such evidence. This confidence is based on my geochemical research in the formation of uranium deposits—specifically, a type known as roll-front deposits.

The typical uranium roll-front deposit is found almost exclusively in large drainage basins throughout the world. These deposits are water-laid and occur in the same portions of the geologic column, whether in the United States, Russia, Australia, or elsewhere. The uranium ore deposit, formed in a water-permeable sandstone layer bounded on both sides by a less permeable mudstone or shale layer, resembles a "sandstone sandwich." This "sandwich" permitted large amounts of water to flow through the sandstone during the ore formation. Throughout the sand stone layer a region that contains uranium ore is contiguous with a region that contains large amounts of organic vegetal debris such as trees, wood fragments, leaves, ferns, et cetera. In fact, uranium deposits are found only in a "sandstone sandwich" that contains vegetal debris; in other words, no vegetal debris, no uranium.

The presence and origin of the vegetal debris is a mystery to the geologist. Re ports describing the uranium deposits make only passing comments about this material. However, it is the presence of this vegetal material that is not only the key to the understanding of the deposit formation but also one of the keys needed to harmonize the evidence in the natural world with the testimony of Scripture.

As previously mentioned, roll-front uranium deposits worldwide are water-laid, are located primarily in large drain age basins, and are in the same era of geologic classification (Mesozoic). One is hard pressed to find a better mechanism to account for all these features than that given in the Bible. The world wide flood as outlined in Genesis implies the very conditions necessary for the development of the uranium deposits found today. In fact, this type of layering and burial process is observed today on a smaller scale during the recession of local flood waters. The presence of the vegetal material found in "sandstone sandwiches" is no longer a mystery.

The fact that these uranium deposits are found worldwide and that they are anatomically the same is impressive support for the testimony concerning a worldwide flood. The fact that these uranium deposits are found in the same era of geologic classification provides additional support for the Genesis ac count.

Currently accepted theories about roll-front deposits estimate the need of 750,000 to 1,500,000 years for an ore body to form. However, the presence of vegetal debris in large quantity through out these ore deposits places a scriptural time limit of a few thousand years for development, not several hundred thou sand years!

Until recently my outlook was dim regarding the time question. However, dramatic research results now enable me to confidently say, "Time for uranium deposit formation is no problem."

An attempt to duplicate the sedimentation and flow characteristics expected from receding flood waters has led to the formation of a uranium roll-front type deposit in the laboratory. The "sandwich" was formed by packing a glass column with sand and vegetal debris, through which a solution containing uranium, selenium, and other ions was per colated for several weeks. At the end of six weeks there was unmistakable evidence of a chemical reaction taking place within the column. At the end of six months a complete uranium roll-deposit had formed. Six months, not six hundred thousand years!

The anatomy of the laboratory deposit parallels exactly the deposits found in nature. The key to the laboratory formation is the vegetal debris. Only at positions in the laboratory columns where the organic debris was concentrated did the reactions occur. Where there was an absence of vegetal material there was an absence of uranium precipitate.

Ellen G. White has stated: "Apart from Bible history, geology can prove nothing. . . . Relics found in the earth do give evidence of conditions differing in many respects from the present, but the time when these conditions existed can be learned only from the Inspired Record." —Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 112.

Through the record preserved in the Bible it is possible to explain the presence of the vegetal debris within the uranium deposits. Through this record it is also possible to explain the fact that these deposits are found worldwide within the same geological period, and to account for the large volumes of water that had to flow through the sandstone sandwich.

We do not have to be ashamed of the historical data in the Bible, nor need we fear the time restraints placed upon us by Scripture. Science and Scripture do complement each other when rightly understood.

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Clyde L. Webster, Jr., Ph.D., is chairman of the chemistry department at Loma Linda University, Riverside, California. Prior to joining the Loma Linda University faculty, he was engaged in private industry and research on mineral deposits.

October 1979

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