Updated on February 11, 2018
Did the Grand Canyon take millions of years to form? Haven’t geologists proved that the earth is billions of years old? How long does it take to fossilize an animal’s bones? Fossils, rock layers, and minerals are all closely tied to the age of the earth. Geology is the study of the earth. This branch of science covers fossils, rocks, minerals, rock layers, mountains, volcanoes, and many other things. Geology is a “messy” science – it doesn’t stay in its own nice little box. It steals from many other branches of knowledge and has its own character, too. You can’t study geology without learning some history, chemistry, physics, biology, astronomy, philosophy, and logic. This science simply cannot be isolated from other aspects of learning and life.
In case you haven’t caught on, I like geology. It’s my favorite branch of science, partly because it is so diverse. Last week we looked at questions on what the Bible says about origins (Read that article: Is the Genesis Creation Account Literal? – Creation Basics 2). From the Bible, we can tell that the Earth was created about six thousand years ago. Today, let’s look at geology questions on origins and the age of the earth.
Does it take millions of years to make rock layers?
Nope – mud layers can form quickly, and if they are in the right conditions, they turn into rock. It’s all about the right conditions. The amount of time is less important. Many people think that rock layers must have taken many thousands or millions of years to form. If you look at the way mud and sand build up naturally today in special areas around rivers, oceans, or deserts, it does look like it might take a long time to turn those small deposits into the rock layers you see in road-cuts. But, the slow processes we see today simply can’t explain the many vast, deep, and clean-cut rock layers we find. Growing plants and burrowing animals would mess up the clean, flat contacts between mud layers long before they could turn into rock. If you look at rock layers in the Grand Canyon, you can see lots of perfectly flat contacts between layer after layer. This flat contact makes more sense if the layers were all made around the same time, before animals and plants messed up the surfaces.
Does it take millions of years to make a fossil?
A fossilized teddy bear toy. A miner’s hat turned to stone. A petrified sack of flour. Did it take millions of years to “fossilize” these objects? Of course not – those are all modern objects that were quickly “fossilized”. Objects can “fossilize” in a few months to a few decades, depending on the conditions. What exactly is a fossil? Technically, it’s the remains of a very ancient once-living thing (plants, animals, etc.). How does something fossilize? Usually when people say “fossilization”, the process they mean is “permineralization” or “petrification”. In this process, minerals replace the once-living cells, turning bones to stone. This replacement isn’t about time as much as it is about the right conditions. Hot mineral springs can “fossilize” things quickly. You can have a “fossilized” or permineralized thing that is very new. On the flip side, I have a bone that is not “fossilized” (replaced with minerals), but this mammoth bone is still a “fossil” because it’s ancient (several thousand years old).
Does the geologic column prove that earth is billions of years old?
No. The geologic column (or timescale) is simply the general order in which we find rock layers. The logical rules used to put rock layers in order were first created by Nicolaus Steno. Steno did not believe that the rock layers were millions of years old. In the rock layers, he thought that we could clearly see a record of creation and the global flood as recorded in the Bible. Often you will see evolution tacked on to the geologic column, showing only the fossils that fit their evolutionary order. We don’t see evolution in the rock record, but we certainly do see an order. This order is better explained as different ecosystems being buried throughout the global flood. The geologic column is not a record of evolutionary history – of new creatures coming to life. Rather, it is a record of the progression of catastrophic death around the world during the global flood.
Is there any evidence from geology for a young earth?
Absolutely – there’s lots of evidence for a young earth. Although it’s popular to believe that all scientific “dating methods” point to a very old Earth, this simply is not the case. About 90% of scientific methods that can be used to estimate the age of the earth do not allow enough time for the traditionally taught age of 4.6 billion years. These methods include the increasing amount of salt and sediments in the ocean, the moon drifting away from Earth, our decaying magnetic field, and much more. Here are a few highlights of other evidences for a young earth from geology:
Soft tissue in dinosaur bones
In 2005, a group of paleontologists had to break a T. rex bone to move it in a helicopter. Inside the bone, they discovered soft tissue. Soft tissue, like blood vessels, doesn’t last long. Just look at the food decaying in your refrigerator if you leave it in there too long! It’s the same basic principle for soft tissue in dinosaur bones. If it hasn’t decayed yet, it must not be very old. Soft tissue cannot last millions of years. There is no known way to preserve what researchers have found for the supposed 65+ millions years that dinosaurs have been dead. But, it is possible for soft tissue like this to be preserved for a few thousand years, under the right conditions.
In some places, multiple rock layers all stacked together are smoothly bent at a dramatic angle. If each of these layers had taken long, long periods of time to form, the bottom layers would have hardened long before the top layers were made. Hard rock layers don’t bend without cracking and breaking. Although enough heat and pressure can smoothly bend rock layers like this, that kind of heat and pressure changes the rock type from sedimentary rock to metamorphic rock. These two rock types are very different. There are places where the sedimentary rock is dramatically bent (e.g. in the Grand Canyon) – it had to be bent while it was still soft. This means that all the layers still had to be soft when the top one was laid down. Millions of years don’t work for bent rock layers!
Upright Fossil Trees
Some fossilized trees stand upright, going through several different rock layers. Dead trees don’t just stay upright in place for thousands to millions of years while dirt slowly piles up around them until they are covered in layers. By then, the trees would get scavenged, fall apart, and decay. But, if they are covered quickly by catastrophic flood waters, trees can be preserved upright with layers around it. Upright trees were found at the bottomSpirit Lake by Mount St. Helens after this volcano erupted. Trees were torn from a mountainside during an eruption and dropped into the lake. As the trees became water logged, the heavier root side floated lower in the water and sediments started building up around them. Fossilized upright trees are much better explained by a catastrophe, like Mt. Saint Helens (only much, much bigger!), than by long periods of time.
Helium in Granite
Have you ever noticed the way a normal birthday-party helium balloon slowly sinks as time passes? The balloon sinks as it gradually loses those slippery little helium molecules which are replaced with heavier air molecules. Weird as it may sound, there is actually some helium trapped in little crystals inside granite. There is way too much helium in granite for it to be millions of years old. Helium slips out of rock crystals sort of like it slips out of a balloon. If you find a birthday balloon floating high in the ceiling, that’s usually a good sign that the birthday party wasn’t that long ago. In a similar way, finding rock crystals with a lot of helium like we do is a good sign that the rocks aren’t very old.
Today we have covered some of the basic questions about geology and the age of the earth. How old is the earth? Short answer – about six thousand years old. The Bible records this history and science confirms it. Next week we will look at some common questions about evolution and biology.
©2018, Sara J. Mikkelson
For Further Study:
Creation Clues Articles:
- De Young, Dr. Donald. Thousands . . . Not Billions. Master Books. New Leaf Publishing Group.
- Evolution’s Achilles’ Heels. Creation Ministries International
- Guide to Creation Basics. Institute for Creation Research
- Creation Basics & Beyond. Institute for Creation Research
- The New Answers Book, Volumes 1, 2, 3 & 4. Answers in Genesis. Master Books. New Leaf Publishing Group.
Posted on January 30, 2018
Did God use evolution to create everything? Is there space for millions of years between the first two verses in Genesis? Is the creation account in Genesis literal or just a moral story? These are just a few of the common questions that people ask about the creation account in Genesis.
Most Christians, especially kids who grew up in church, have heard the story of creation in Genesis. God made all things in six days, then Adam and Eve sinned, bringing thorns and death into the world. But, when confronted with the ideas of evolution and an old earth in school, people wonder which is right – the Bible or science class? Or are they both true?
Last week, we covered a few common questions about the reliability of the Bible. We also looked at what the whole origins debate is all about – history. You can read that article by clicking on the title, “What’s Your Origin? Creation Basics 1”. With no further ado, let’s dig into this week’s most common questions about the creation account in Genesis!
Is there a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2?
“(1) In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (2) And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” Genesis 1:1-2
We could easily spend all day on this one, picking apart the original language, but let’s just hit some highlights. First, as adults we tend to over-complicate things. Give this passage to a kid who has absolutely no pre-conceived ideas about the age of the earth. It would probably never occur to the kid on their own that there are millions of years, the fall of Satan, and “Lucifer’s Flood” like many claim. With a plain, straightforward reading of the text, it simply looks like verse one is an introduction followed by a detailed explanation of how God created. As Christians, the unchanging Word of God should be our ultimate standard, not cultural whims.
In the Hebrew, there are a few main words that will help us interpret the text. Some people think this means God created the earth, then it became a bad wasteland “tohu”, ruled by Satan. But, when we see “tohu” and “bohu” together elsewhere in the Old Testament, it means formless and empty. It’s not inherently bad. It just means that God wasn’t finished making it. Another very important thing is the “and”, “waw” in the original language, that clearly links the first second verse directly to the first one. This “waw” shows that verse two simply goes on to describe how God created. Describing the soon-to-be earth as formless and empty is a great way to start. The following verses explain how God formed the earth and how He filled it. There’s a lot more to this, but let’s move on today.
Are the days of creation literal, 24-hour days, or just periods of time?
Some people think that the “days” of Genesis are figurative areas of time. But, linguistically, how do we know if it’s a real, historical date? If day comes with a time of day or a number, that means it’s a real 24-hour day. Isn’t it amazing how clear God made this in His Word? Every “day” comes with two times of day, “evening” and “morning” and a number “fifth”. This pretty clearly indicates regular, historical days.
“And the evening and the morning were the fifth day” – Genesis 1:23
Is Genesis literal history or just a figurative moral story?
The whole book of Genesis, from creation to Abraham and Joseph, is all written in the style of a historical narrative. It’s not like a proverb, and not like a psalm. Each of the people, Adam, Eve, Noah, Abraham, and Joseph are all portrayed as historical characters, not a vague story.
Are there gaps in the Biblical genealogies?
How can we figure out the age of the earth from the Bible? Well, all the genealogies, listing those difficult to pronounce names, give relative ages of people. If you want to try to figure out the numbers yourself, click here to read an article on how to do that. There really can’t be any gaps for long ages between generations because the genealogies say the age of the first person when the following person was born. For example – Adam was 130 years old when Seth was born, and Lamech was 182 when Noah was born.
Did God use evolution to create everything?
The Genesis creation account of the six days of Genesis clearly shows the order God used to create. Much of this order contradicts the order of evolution. For example, God created the sun, moon, and stars after He created dry ground on earth with growing plants. Whales were created with other sea creatures before any land animals which also goes against evolution. To top it all off, birds were created a day before dinosaurs (dinosaurs are land animals – we will go over dinosaurs separately later).
Most importantly, evolution requires a lot of animal death. Survival of the fittest really means death of the less-fit. Genesis and the rest of the Bible makes it clear that death of animals and people only came because of sin, not before it. Sin is the reason why animals died as sacrifices throughout the Old Testament. This is also why Jesus came and died on the cross – to save us from our sins that bring both literal and spiritual death. Dear friend, pain, suffering, and death were not at all part of what God called “very good” at the end of creation week. He doesn’t call your suffering and pain good either – He knows it is bad and hurts when you hurt. When He returns and makes a new creation, there will be no more pain, death, or tears. It will be very good, just like His original creation.
Can a person be saved if he or she believes in evolution or an old earth?
Question – what do you have to do to be saved? Look it up yourself. Basically, you have to repent of sin and believe in Jesus. Believing in a young earth and no evolution is not essential for salvation. But, it is essential for being logically consistent with your beliefs. People are watching to see if you really believe what you say you believe. Young people have lots of questions about evolution and the age of the earth, and a compromised answer isn’t very convincing. People need to know that the Bible can be trusted from the very first verse. Next week we will talk more specifically about a young earth, geology, and the global flood.
©2018, Sara J. Mikkelson
For Further Study:
- Guide to Creation Basics. Institute for Creation Research
- Creation Basics & Beyond. Institute for Creation Research
- The New Answers Book, Volumes 1, 2, 3 & 4. Answers in Genesis. Master Books. New Leaf Publishing Group.
- Fields, Weston. Unformed and Unfilled: A Critique of the Gap Theory. Master Books. New Leaf Publishing Group
- Sarfati, Jonathan. Refuting Compromise. Creation Ministries International
Updated on January 23, 2018
How old is the earth? Does evolution disprove the Bible? What about dinosaurs? Did God use evolution to create everything? Is God even real, or is He just a myth? People have a lot of questions about our origins. Of course, some people don’t like talking about origins. Often, this is because they don’t like the controversy or think that it doesn’t matter to them because they personally think that science is “boring”. Regardless of what camp you are in (curious, apathetic, or thinking you know all the answers), knowing where we came from is crucial to understanding our identity and purpose as individuals. What you think about your origins will have a profound effect on the way you live your life.
Because questions about our origins are so important, I’m going to spend the next six weeks going over the basics of origins, science, and the Bible, answering a few of the most common questions I hear from people. In this series, we will cover the Biblical creation account, evolution, the age of the earth, dinosaurs, and the impact of how people think about origins. While this series will by no means be exhaustive, I will provide some helpful resources where you can learn more about each topic at the end of the article if you would like.
Let’s jump in and address the first big question about our origins:
“Aren’t origins just about science vs. religion?”
For finding answers to any question, the best place to start is by gathering clues, like a detective. Let’s ask a few questions about this question to help us find the answer; What are origins? What is Science? What is religion?
- Origins are the beginning or history of something
- Science simply means knowledge
- Religion is a set of beliefs
Rephrasing the original question: is history an issue of knowledge vs. beliefs? No. Why? Because you can’t just pick knowledge or beliefs – you need both knowledge and beliefs put together to make history. Why do you need both knowledge and beliefs for history? Because unlike knowledge about things we can see and test today, knowledge about history requires that you believe what someone else said.
Just like in solving a mystery, we can gather clues, do chemical tests, and evaluate evidence, but the most powerful, needed evidence about history comes from an eye-witness account. Sometimes the facts, or evidence, can be put together several different ways and an eye-witness is the only thing that will clear up the mystery. To learn about history, we must know who is a trust-worthy witness and who is not. No matter what origins account you hold to, you must start with a set of beliefs, or a worldview. These beliefs include who or what you think is trust-worthy. That leads us to the next question, asking if the Bible is a trust-worthy source for history.
“Does the Bible contain reliable history?”
There are many questions people have about the Bible, but many point back to this core question, asking if the Bible is reliable history. Here are some clues that speak of the historical reliability of the Bible:
Claims to be inspired by God
Only trust a witness who claims to be a witness. Since the Bible claims to be the inspired Word of God (see Daniel 9:2, 1 Timothy 5:18, and Mark 12:36), we should at least hear it out and not just dismiss it right away. Throughout the Bible it is re-affirms itself as the Word of God.
There are way more copies of Bible manuscripts than of any other ancient writing. Much of the New Testament was written soon after Jesus’ resurrection. The copies of the same passages always match, with about 99.5% accuracy overall, even if there are many years between copies. These manuscripts were copied very carefully over the years.
Although once thought to disprove the Bible, we now know that archeology provides a lot of support for the historical accuracy of the Bible. Names and places in the Bible have been found in recent archeology, including King David, Daniel, Pilate, and Sodom.
Unity of the Bible
Despite the fact that the 66 books of the Bible penned by over 40 different authors in 3 different languages over the course of about 2,000 years, it remains consistent. It does not contradict itself and maintains a common theme of redemption.
Fulfilled prophecies are all over the Bible, many of which are statistically impossible to have happened by chance and were prophesied many years before the event. Fulfilled prophecies include Daniel’s prophecies about Babylon, Jesus’ prophecy of Jerusalem’s destruction, and prophecies over details of Jesus’ birth.
Long before microbes were discovered by scientists, the Bible gave instructions about hand washing to avoid sickness. It also spoke of atoms, innumerable stars, and ocean currents before these things were “discovered”.
Taking all of these clues into account, doesn’t it look like the Bible is a fairly reliable source for historical information? The history in the Bible has a reputation of being accurate and trust-worthy. Today we have covered some basics about worldview, history, and the Bible, answering the first two questions. Next week we will address questions about the creation account in Genesis.
For Further Reading:
On Worldviews & “Religion vs. Science”:
On History & the Bible:
Posted on November 16, 2017
The howling dry wind whipped all around, making my hair go wild. The sand was so deep, it swallowed my feet more and more with every step. My sweaty skin felt sticky as it mixed with the pure white sand. Sometimes the wind was so strong in my face that I felt like I could barely get a breath. This is a little picture of what it was like on our mini adventure in White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. When I first visited this place, I had no idea how much fun it would be. We got to sled down the enormous sand dunes. It may have looked a little like snow sledding in that pure, white sand, but it was definitely not as cold as snow – even on a cold winter morning in this desert!
A sand dune (pronounced “doon”) is a giant hill or pile of loose sand grains. They can be made by wind or flowing water. Dunes usually move slowly, but keep their shape while moving because the wind or water makes their shape.
White Sands is a desert, made up of some very special sand. This sand is made up of the mineral called gypsum (pronounced “jip-some”). Unlike other types of sand, gypsum can partly dissolve in water. It acts a little like salt. Gypsum sand like this would not last long on a beach.
Did you know? There are lots of different kinds & colors of sand – white sand, black sand, regular tan sand, and even green sand! These colors are made of different minerals. What makes them all sand is the size of their little sand grains.
Why is this white sand so special? Normally, gypsum is solid like rock or a crystal – it isn’t usually found as sand. Gypsum is very “soft” for a mineral. It’s so soft you can scratch it with just your fingernail! Since it is so soft, but still hard like a rock, gypsum gets used in many different ways. Artists use it to make sculptures. Builders use it to make walls in houses. Farmers use it in soil to help crops grow. Doctors use it to make casts around broken bones. If you have ever done a craft project with plaster of Paris, it is also made of gypsum. You can even find gypsum in your toothpaste and some food!
Minerals are made up of chemicals designed to go together in a special way by God. Minerals can form into beautiful crystals. Rocks are made up of minerals.
Where did all this white gypsum sand come from? Well, this white sand actually points back to Noah’s flood that we read about in the Bible. The Flood created many of the rock layers we have all over the world. This includes layers of gypsum. We can’t know for sure how exactly the science of everything happened, since we weren’t there to see it. But, many scientists have used the Bible to make some good models of how this could have happened. The gypsum mineral probably came from Noah’s Flood. The Bible says that during the Flood, the “fountains of the great deep” broke up. This probably meant underwater volcanic eruptions and much more. Super-hot, extra-salty salt water probably mixed in with the lava coming from underground. Some of that “salt” in the salt water would be gypsum that would get buried with other mud layers in the Flood. The mountains rose up at the end of the Flood and for a while after. Water probably carried gypsum from rock layers down into a low place between mountains – a place called the “Tularosa Basin” (pronounced “Too-lah-rho-sa”). Being stuck between mountains, with nowhere to go, most water just had to evaporate in the hot sun, leaving the gypsum behind. Today we have mounds and mounds of white gypsum sand in the Tularosa Basin – White Sands, New Mexico.
Even though White Sands is a desert that doesn’t get as much rain as other places, it still has a bunch of amazing plants and animals! Since the ground is made of sand dunes that move slowly in the wind, only special types of plants can survive the moving sand around them as they grow. Yucca plants grow very tall so that even when sand moves over them, they aren’t completely covered. Plants trap water at their roots, making the gypsum sand stick close to the roots. This creates a chunk of almost solid ground underneath the plant, even when the rest of the sand has moved away. These plants show God’s amazing design in their ability to live well even in a desert.
Do you like lizards? Did you know that there are white lizards, white mice, white spiders, and white moths all living in White Sands? These white creatures blend in with the sand, making them more “invisible” to the creatures who would like to have them for lunch. Some of these special types of white creatures can only be found living in White Sands. These creatures got to White Sands and adjusted to the harsh desert environment using their special God-designed abilities.
Living in the desert can be hard, and not all creatures are up for the challenge. But, there are some creatures who have learned how to live here and have adjusted to the desert environment around them. God created animals with the special ability to adjust themselves to different environments. This is why many of the creatures in White Sands can survive. God made creatures to be able to adjust because He loves variety – he loves putting different colors and shapes in His creation. Of course, not all creatures can adjust to the harsh desert environment. God made creatures with the ability to adjust themselves to fit different environments, but there is only so far that a creature can adjust.
Don’t get adjusting confused with evolution! Creatures can adjust themselves a little, but they never turn into other types of creatures, no matter how long they adjust. Lizards can adjust their color, shape & size, but they will always be lizards – not any other type of creature!
Just like the creatures in White Sands, sometimes God puts each of us in different environments and sometimes we have to adjust. God has given you everything you need to adjust, if needed. Sometimes we need to be flexible when change comes and learn to do things differently than we used to do. But remember to always stay true to the special person God created you to be. Don’t let other people try to over adjust you into someone God did not want you to become. Like the creatures at White Sands, you were not made to evolve into something else!
We made a video to teach you more about White Sands and show you how it looks! With an adult, check it out on YouTube – it’s called “White Sands | Creation Clues | Episode 1” on the “Creation Clues” YouTube channel.
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About Creation Clues for Kids
CCK is written by Sara J. Mikkelson. Many thanks to Richard Gunther for sharing his cartoon! Special thanks to Dr. Andrew Snelling for geology review. If you have a question, comment, cartoon, or drawing about God’s creation that you would like to share, please write to Sara at: CreationCluesForKids@gmail.com
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Print Friendly Version Here:CCK Vol 6 No 1 – White Sands
Updated on November 15, 2017
Years ago, when I first heard about this cool idea for a 3D movie of Genesis, I was very excited. Now after watching the movie, I am even more excited! Our modern American culture has people’s minds saturated with evolutionary ideas. Even talking with Bible-believing Christians who don’t really believe in evolution, there are still webs of the evolutionary pictures woven into their minds of what “cave men” and dinosaurs were like. These wrong worldviews are so embedded in people’s minds that it’s often difficult for them to visualize a truly Biblical picture of earth history. In writing about young earth geology, I always wish that you, the reader, could truly “see” in your mind what creation week, the global flood, and the ice age were really like. I can’t tell you how exciting it is to see a movie like the new “Genesis: Paradise Lost” movie that can help people get a better picture of what Biblical earth history looks like.
On Monday, November 13th, and Thursday, November 16th, the “Genesis” movie will be airing in theaters around America at special Fathom events. I recommend that you get your tickets as soon as possible – you do not want to miss out on seeing this incredible movie! I highly recommend it for anyone high-school age and above. It would be very good for many in younger age groups as well, of course, at the discretion of parents. Young people especially need to see this movie, as it will help them better picture the Biblical worldview of earth history.
Find tickets at this link: https://genesismovie.com/
What is it that makes “Genesis: Paradise Lost” different from other Christian films or young-earth creationist documentaries? The animations, and the fact that it is available in 3D, help people visualize what creation week might have looked like. Minds of young people are constantly saturated with media picturing non-Biblical worldviews – I think that this movie may help many young people get a better grasp on the Biblical view of science and the Bible. My favorite part of the movie was when they were talking about Lucy and other supposed ape-men. They had the coolest animations for comparing these different skulls with human skulls. This part really helps clearly illustrate the differences between human and animal skulls.
There are a lot of great things that I love about the Genesis movie, but to be fair, I’ll be completely honest about two aspects of the movie I wasn’t as fond of. First, during the interviews, they don’t put the name or expertise of the people they are interviewing on the screen. I can understand how this is artistic license, but knowing the names of the people and how reliable they are on each topic is important. Knowing your sources helps build trust. I knew who most of the people were, just by seeing their faces, but most of the audience probably will not. Second, the portrayal of the creation of Adam and Eve didn’t give a personal feel of God tenderly making each of them by hand and walking with them in the Garden of Eden. I can imagine this would be very difficult to portray, and I understand that both of these aspects are merely artistic license, but I want to be completely transparent in my review of the movie.
As a whole, “Genesis: Paradise Lost” is definitely a movie that every Christian should see. This movie is supposed to be just the beginning of a trilogy, so I will warn you that it only covers creation through the fall of mankind. As a geology person, I cannot wait until they come out with a movie like this that portrays the global flood. I really hope that Eric Hovind, the man who initiated the making of this documentary, will do part two on the flood very soon. People need to see more movies like this that can help them clearly visualize earth history from a Biblical worldview!
The writer of this article saw a special preview that did not include any names or titles of the people being interviewed. However, in the theatrical release the producers corrected this issue and put the names and titles of people being interviewed. Thank you to the producers for changing this!
Article Copyright October 2017, Sara J. Mikkelson
Watch the trailer:
Posted on October 28, 2017
Up and down, up and down . . . I watched the giant oil pump that looked a little like a bird pecking at the ground. Growing up in the panhandle of Texas, oil wells and cotton fields were an ordinary part of the countryside scenery. Pictures of these oil wells are part of local art. In college, most of the other geology majors I knew were only interested in oil geology because they wanted to get rich quick. Oil geology was not usually a topic I got excited about because I couldn’t relate to those fellow students. I love science, especially geology and wanted to learn more so that I could minister to and teach others, not so I could get rich quick. But, the geology of oil and natural gas really is amazing and puzzling. The search for oil has forced scientists to map the geologic layers of many different areas around the globe and allowed us to learn more about geology.
Last time, we talked about coal geology and many of the misunderstandings people have about coal (read that article here). People tend to have similar misunderstandings about oil and natural gas. Today, we will address three of these
- Geologists must believe in evolution and billions of years to find oil
- Oil and natural gas come from dinosaur bones
- It takes long periods of time to make oil and gas
First, you do not have to believe that earth is billions of years old and all life evolved to find oil. Physical geology is important for discovering oil wells, but the history of life doesn’t matter as much. Most of oil discovery is about testing, experiments, and finding physical patterns – not about evolution and long ages. It doesn’t matter how old you think the layers are, the main point is the way they are arranged physically. Special vibrations are made to test an area and see where a layer changes, much like an underground version of a radar. Certain rock types and patterns in the layers are used to discover good places for oil. It’s all about observing and testing today. Finding oil and gas is physical, observational science (read more about the different types of science here).
Addressing the second misunderstanding, that oil and gas comes from dinosaur bones. We already talked about this with coal last time, but the way oil and gas form is a little different. Most geologists agree that the chemicals that make up of oil and gas probably came from algae and plankton like we find growing on water today. While there’s a chance that dinosaurs bodies breaking down could contribute to the chemicals that make up oil and gas, algae and plankton are the main accepted sources at this time. It is possible to make oil and gas non-living chemicals. Oil and gas can also be made from brown lignite coal under the right conditions. For oil and gas forming, it’s all about the conditions – temperature, chemicals, rock types, and rock patterns.
Oil and gas come from certain “source rocks” that likely trapped algae and plankton. But, to be pumped out of the ground, they have to be in just the right type of rock – rock that works like a sponge with lots of tiny open spaces that are connected. Since it’s usually hard to get oil and gas out of the “source rocks” that it originally formed in, they have to migrate to these special sponge-like “reservoir rocks”. People often think that it takes very long periods of time for the oil and gas to move from the source rock to the sponge-like reservoir rock, but that isn’t necessarily the case. It’s hard to observe this moving happening today because it is all happens deep underground. We know it must come from the source rocks because of the chemicals in the source rocks match the chemicals in the oil. The movement of groundwater helps move oil and gas because oil floats on water rising above it, and gas “floats” on the oil. Oil and gas are often found in layers above underground water sources – water makes the movement go a lot faster than it would without water.
Now that you know that discovering oil is about observational science (not history and evolution) and you have a better idea of what oil and gas are made of, we can talk more about how long it takes to form oil and gas. This covers the third common misconception – that oil and gas takes long periods of time to form. Oil has been made in labs anywhere from days to a few years. Oil is also being made under the ocean today when underwater volcanic activity heats up the water around some plankton and algae. We can see this happening in the Gulf of California. With water covering everything and lots of volcanic activity happening during the global flood, it’s easy to see how oil could have formed during and after the flood.
Oil can be made today both quickly in the lab and naturally in the ocean. The oil and gas we find today and use for fuel are not a problem for the young-earth model. However, there are questions about whether or not oil and gas could last for millions of years. If oil is too close to the surface, it will decay. Oil and gas usually have to be in a sponge-like reservoir rock, and there has to be the right type of rock on top of the reservoir rock to act like a cap and keep the oil and gas from escaping or decaying because of things close to the surface. Some will say that the heat “pasteurizes” the oil and gas, keeping it from decaying, but this is difficult to prove. Oil may be similar to soft-tissue finds in dinosaur bones – something that shouldn’t be around after millions of years.
It turns out that oil and gas formations that we find today line up much better with the Biblical young-earth and global flood model of geology. Just like coal, oil and gas are a wonderful gift of provision that God provided to us through the catastrophic judgement of the global flood. The whole science of geology is filled with examples like these where God used something bad (the flood) to make something useful for us today. And just like kids who have received a gift from a parent, people groups do bicker and war over prized areas where this gift of oil is found. But, that doesn’t make it any less of a gift. Be sure to remember to thank Him today for the gifts He has provided to you. And always remember, He is the master of turning painful circumstances into blessing.
Copyright Sara J. Mikkelson, October 2017.
- Marshark, Stephen. Earth: Portrait of a Planet. , Third Edition. 2008. Section 14.3-14.6. Pg 489-500. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
- Snelling, Andrew. Earth’s Catastrophic Past: Geology, Creation, & The Flood. Volume 2. Chapter 121. Pages965-76 . 2009. Third printing, October 2014. Answers in Genesis. Master Books. New Leaf Publishing Group. Green Forest, Arkansas, USA.
- Snelling, Andrew. How fast can oil form? Creation Magazine 12(2):30–34. March 1990. Creation Ministries International. Retrieved 10-28-17. https://creation.com/how-fast-can-oil-form
- Thomas, Brian. Osmium in Shale Reflects the Flood. Evidence for Creation. July 31, 2008. Institute for Creation Research. Retrieved 10-28-17. http://www.icr.org/article/osmium-shale-reflects-flood
- Thomas, Brian. Did Natural Gas Take Millions of Years to Form? Evidence for Creation. August 8, 2011. Institute for Creation Research. Retrieved 10-28-17. http://www.icr.org/article/did-natural-gas-take-millions-years
- Morris, John. Is Creation Thinking Useful?. Acts & Facts. 22 (4). 1993. Institute for Creation Research. Retrieved 10-28-17. http://www.icr.org/article/creation-thinking-useful
- Clarey, Tim. Oil as a “Soft Tissue”. Science, Scripture, and Salvation podcast. October 6, 2016. Institute for Creation Research. Retrieved 10-28-17. http://www.icr.org/article/oil-soft-tissue
- O’Brien, Jonathan. Wieland, Carl. Algae to oil:Algal ‘slurry’ turns to crude oil in minutes. Creation Magazine 37(3):55.July, 2015. Creation Ministreis International. Retrieved 10-28-17. https://creation.com/algae-to-oil
- Wieland, Carl. Oil not always a ‘fossil fuel’. Creation Magazine 32(2):56. April 2010. Creation Ministries International. Retrieved 10-28-17. https://creation.com/oil-not-always-fossil
Posted on October 13, 2017
I love asking questions. I usually enjoy answering questions, too, especially when they come from kids and other people who are just curious and really want to learn and understand. Of course, a lot of times, I don’t know the answers, but that just means it’s the perfect time for me to learn as well. I hear a lot of questions almost every day with my work in creation science – some from people who really want to learn, some come from people who are just angry and hurt. Recently someone asked a question that went something like this “If the earth is only thousands of years old, how did dinosaur bones turn into coal and oil?” After reading this question, I realized that a lot of people really don’t know what coal and oil are made of and how they are formed. In this article, we will talk about coal, and next time, we will talk about oil and natural gas.
First, let’s do some “myth busting”. Here are three common myths about coal:
- Fossil fuels – coal, oil, and natural gas – come from dinosaur bones
- It takes long periods of time (millions of years) to make coal
- Diamonds are made of pressurized coal (learn about the origin of diamonds here)
Without a doubt, coal is made of plant material – not dinosaurs. If you look through coal deposits, you will find lots of plant fossils. Where in the world did people come up with the idea that coal came from dinosaurs? Maybe because people automatically think “dinosaurs” any time they hear the word, “fossil”. But, there is so much more to fossils than just dinosaurs! Coal can be found in many different layers, or coal seems, around the world. It can be found in layers below the rocks that contain dinosaur bones, in rock layers alongside dinosaurs, and in layers above them. The most popular rock unit to find coal in is the carboniferous group, made up of the Mississippian and Pennsylvanian units (more about rock units and the order of the rock layers here).
Coalification is a type of fossilization. In traditional fossilization, minerals replace bone, turning it into stone. Turning plant material into coal is similar. The basic ingredients to make coal are: 1) plant material, 2) heat, and 3) pressure. Scientists have also found that chemicals in clay found with coal actually speeds up the process. Many people would tell you that coal forms slowly over long periods of time, as plant material in a swamp slowly gets covered by mud when the ocean rises to cover the swamp. However, there are a number of problems with this model. First, we don’t see anything like this happening today. The peat (mushed plant material) that makes up coal in the fossil record looks different than peat does in swamps today. Today, we can observe that peat in modern-day swamps looks different from peat that was made by catastrophic transport, like in a modern hurricane. The grain sizes and the way debris is spread around in fossil coal matches catastrophic transport peat much better than swamp peat. If coal layers really did form slowly in a swamp, there would have to be other swamps on top of the first layers to create the next ones. But, tree roots from the swamps above would mess up the layer of coal below it.
The global flood, mentioned in the Bible, offers a much better model for coal formation than the ancient swamp explanation and actually fits better with what we see happening today. In this model, the violent flood waters would have gathered many different types of plants, turning them into peat. We see lots of different plant fossils in coal – including plants that don’t live in swamps. The peat would be deposited between layers of mud, where it would get the right amounts of heat and pressure, thanks to the mud layers on top of it and other flood factors. This flood model for coal is a “catastrophic transport” model, in which the plant material was transported away from where the plants grew and buried quickly.
There have been other “catastrophic transport” models like this for coal formation in the past. These “catastrophic transport” models are not very popular because many people think that the plant material grew and coalified in the same place. They point to evidence of “fossilized forests” – we do find upright fossil trees going through coal layers with roots in “ancient soil” buried underneath coal layers. But, a closer look at this fossil evidence shows more support to the idea of catastrophic transport – that the plant material was transported away from where it grew before it turned to coal. The roots of some of these fossil trees (lycopods) are hollow and broken. The rock inside these roots is made of different chemicals from the rock around the roots – if these tree roots grew in this soil, we would expect basically the same type of dirt inside and outside the roots.
Also, trees don’t stay upright and unfossilized for thousands of years while they wait to get covered with the next layer of rock – they would break off long before then! We have seen broken trees standing upright underwater at Spirit Lake next to Mount Saint Helens. Catastrophic, quick transport & burial better matches the evidence. Some people say that it would take longer than the few thousand years before the flood to grow all the vegetation on earth to make as much coal as we find. But, they are just guessing that the climate and growth rates we see today on earth have been the same in the past. The world before the flood was much more lush and tropical. With one big landmass – a super-continent instead of smaller broken continents like we have today – there may have been a lot more area for growth.
It doesn’t take millions of years to form coal – just the right conditions. Coal has been made in labs many times, taking days or weeks. Making coal (or any fossil) is all about conditions. Different conditions make slightly different types of coal. Coal starts out as peat, and the hotter the temperature, the “better” the coal. Made at the lowest coal-forming temperatures, lignite (spelled with an “L”) is the least pure type of coal, containing 60-70% carbon. Next in line is the common bituminous coal. The best type of coal for burning is anthracite that contains 92-98% carbon, formed at the highest coal-forming temperatures. If it gets too hot, the coal will turn into graphite, like a common pencil “lead”.
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of what coal is and how it was made. Next time, we will explore how oil and natural gas are formed. Realizing that the global flood formed coal and other fossil fuels puts things into perspective. Think about it – coal has been an extremely important part of history. It has helped provide necessary warmth for countless people over the years. Yet, it was formed by a disastrous global flood that destroyed almost everything on the earth. The flood was part of God’s righteous judgment – a good judge doesn’t let criminals go without just punishment. But, through the judgement and destruction, we can also see the amazing signs of His mercy and grace. He took destruction and turned it into something useful, beautiful, and even life saving – He used the flood to make coal
To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified ~ Isaiah 61:3
- Marshark, Stephen. Earth: Portrait of a Planet. , Third Edition. 2008. Section 14.7. Coal: Energy from the Swamps of the Past. Pg 500-509. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
- Snelling, Andrew. Earth’s Catastrophic Past: Geology, Creation, & The Flood. Volume 2. Chapters 70, 71,85, 119, 120. Pages 549-68,584-86, 675-81, 953-63. 2009. Third printing, October 2014. Answers in Genesis. Master Books. New Leaf Publishing Group. Green Forest, Arkansas, USA.
- Morris, John. 2011. On the Origin of Coal. Acts & Facts. 40 (6): 18. Institute for Creation Research. Last accessed 10-6-2017. http://www.icr.org/article/6093
- Morris, John. 2003. Did Modern Coal Seams Form in a Peat Swamp? Acts & Facts. 32 (8). Institute for Creation Research. Last accessed 10-6-2017. http://www.icr.org/article/did-modern-coal-seams-form-peat-swamp
- Morris, Henry M. Those Fossil Fuels. Evidence for Creation. Institute for Creation Research. Last accessed 10-6-2017. http://www.icr.org/article/those-fossil-fuels
- Schönknecht, Gerhard. Too much coal for a young earth? Journal of Creation 11(3):278–282. December 1997. Creation Ministries International. Last accessed 10-6-2017. https://creation.com/too-much-coal-for-a-young-earth
- King, Hobart. Coal:What Is Coal and How Does It Form? Sedimentary Rocks. Rocks. Geology.com. Last accessed 10-6-2017. http://geology.com/rocks/coal.shtml
Posted on August 11, 2017
What is wrong with me? I thought as I caught a glimpse of my pale face and the dark bags under my eyes in the mirror. I was getting tons of sleep, but still felt exhausted and struggling to do basic tasks. Things just got worse, so I eventually went to the doctor (usually a last-resort for me). After a weekend of taking antibiotics that did absolutely no good, I went back to the doctor who tested blood and told me that I have “mononucleosis”. Unfortunately, she did not mean that I had a genuine “Monoclonius” fossil – a dinosaur type similar to Triceratops, originally named by one of the founders of North American paleontology, Edward Cope, but that has since been mostly proven to be merely babies of other types of dinosaurs (learn more about Cope and the infamous bone wars here).
There is no medicine or treatment for “mono”, also called the “kissing disease”. All that can be done is to let the human immune system do its job. Of course, anything that lightens the load on the immune system helps – sleeping, drinking lots of water, taking vitamin C, etc. In our modern American culture, our minds tend to go straight for medicines when we get sick, but the human immune system on its own is an incredible thing. Our bodies were designed to defend, fix, and maintain themselves. Isn’t that an amazing thought? The human body uses many different defense mechanisms and organs on multiple levels – Skin, red and white blood cells, mucus, the lymphatic system, and others are all part of the immune system.
Witnessing my own immune system working overtime every day for months (and continuing to work), two questions stuck in my mind:
- Why did our Creator, God give us immune systems if He created a perfect world (see Genesis 1:31)?
- Why is the human immune system flawed, if God created it perfect? Some people’s immune systems do not do their job right, or grow weak and fail them. Other people’s immune systems attack their own body, causing lots of problems. Either of these could result in serious sickness or death.
Digging into the first question, the simplest answer could just be that God created the immune system because He knew we would need it later. He knew ahead of time that Adam and Eve would choose to rebel against Him, bringing pain, sickness, and death into the world. We don’t know what the world God originally created was like – we were not there to observe it, so all we know is what is written down in the history of the Bible. But we do know that, even today, defending against disease is not the only purpose of the immune system.
Your immune system acts like a sheepdog. The sheepdog is known for defending their sheep against wolves and other creatures with an appetite for fresh lamb. Sheepdogs are also used to help herd the sheep, keeping these unruly animals in their place, and helping the shepherd lead them in the right way. These dogs have both aggressive & more gentle jobs. The immune system defends our body against harm, much like a sheepdog defends his sheep. But, the immune system also helps with maintenance of our body and “herding” good bacteria, among other things. The spleen is part of the immune system – it helps clean bacteria from the blood, and cleans out old blood cells. The immune system “herds” micro-organisms, for example, by controlling the population of good bacteria in your gut (bacteria is definitely not all bad – your body needs some), and keeping it where it belongs. One of the most important jobs of the immune system is to recognize which cells belong to your body, and which do not. This amazing system of your body is hard at work all the time – not just when you are sick.
The second question I asked was why our wonderfully designed immune system is so flawed and prone to do its job wrong for some people. Disease and malfunctioning immune systems were definitely not part of the “very good” creation. Just because a painting is worn and torn does not mean that the art was poorly done or that the painter doesn’t care about it. In the same way, our immune systems are flawed today from genetic mutation, disease, cancer, etc. But, that doesn’t mean that it was poorly designed or that God no longer cares about the people He created. The reason why our bodies are flawed is that we live in a fallen world – a world where Adam and Eve, the first people, chose to rebel, bring sin into the world and as a consequence, death, disease, and thorns. God doesn’t just leave us in our misery – He offers us a way out, and a promise of a new creation, new earth, and new bodies to all those who accept His invitation.
Then I heard a loud voice from the throne:
“Look! God’s dwelling is with humanity, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away.”
Then the One seated on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new” . . .
©August 2017, Sara J. Mikkelson
- Wieland, Carl. Adam and the Immune System. Published: May 30, 2009. In response to “When was Cain conceived? And is CMI “male dominated”? Creation Ministries International. Retrieved 8-9-2017.
- Gillen, Dr. Alan. Conrad, Jason. Our Impressive Immune System: More Than a Defense. January 15, 2014. Answers in Depth. Answers in Genesis. Retrieved 8-9-2017.
- Immune System. Wikipedia. Wikipedia.org. Retrieved 8-9-2017.
Updated on May 11, 2017
The dreariness of the cloudy, damp afternoon air was negated by my energy and excitement as I walked along the path, stopping every few steps to be enamored with the little things around me. Suddenly, I saw something through the trees that made me gasp. I kept on walking to get a better view at the end of the path. A few feet in front of where I stood, the ground suddenly dropped into a giant, steep crater in the ground. The view was beautiful and mind blowing. I tried to imagine what it would have looked like with fresh, hot lava exploding out of this place, like it had when it was first formed. Volcanoes can make many different amazing rocks and land formations. Last week, I wrote about two types of lava flows, pahoehoe and A’a (read that article here). But, a volcano is so much more than just flowing lava. Today, let’s explore five formations made by volcanoes – and since they all start with the letter “C”, we will call them the 4 C’s of volcanoes.
I mentioned seeing a crater at the beginning of this article. That’s our first “C”. When you think of a crater, features on the moon or made by meteorites are probably the first things to come to mind. Volcanic craters usually have a vent inside that lava and other volcanic debris comes out of. Not all volcanic craters are at the top of the volcano – some happen along the sides of the mountain as well. The second “C”, is called a caldera, and is very similar to a crater. A caldera is a crater that collapsed into its magma chamber, making it much larger. Compared to a crater, a caldera usually has steeper sides and a flatter bottom.
Cones are another amazing feature of volcanoes. They are made of volcanic debris piling up. Spatter cones are made of a bunch of thin, wet clots of lava that splat when they hit the ground. As the lava gets splattered up in one place, it creates a little pile, called a spatter cone. There are other types of cones as well. Ash cones are made of piles of volcanic ash, that have wide crater at the top. Then there are cinder cones, which are made of a bubbly lava rock called scoria – this is the same type of lava rock you would find in gardens and landscaping. These cinder cones also have a crater, but their piles and craters are more narrow than ash cones.
The final “C” of volcanoes is columns. Sometimes cooling lava will crack in a special pattern of columns. These columns look like hexagon (six-sided) shaped logs stacked side by side. Although the most common shape is a hexagon, columns with anywhere between three and eight sides can be created in different situations. They look like pillars all squished together when they stand upright, or stacked logs when they are sideways. It all just depends on where the heat is coming from and where the lava can let off some steam. We find these columns all throughout the rock record, including in the Grand Canyon. Some people say that they have actually watched these columns forming as the lava cooled quickly.
That’s one of the most incredible things about Hawaii – seeing geology in action. Hawaii is a great reminder of how young our earth really is. Quick, dramatic spurts of volcanic eruptions can dramatically change the landscape. People will often point to the very same types of formations we see on Hawaii and claim that they took long periods of time to form or that they are millions of years old, like the rock columns on the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Humans have witnessed many small-scale disasters on Hawaii and other volcanoes. Some have been able to take pictures or even videos of these things in action. Those small-scale disasters are just leftovers after the global flood that would have included lots of volcanic activity. While people may point to radioisotope rock dating as “proof” that other volcanic rock formations are very old, those dates are not very reliable. Lava from Hawaii that people saw erupting in 1800 was tested for radioisotopes and it came back with a supposed minimum age of 160 million years. We know that’s not the case for this lava, so why trust it to tell us dates of lava?
Volcanoes are also a solemn reminder of how quickly things can change. Don’t take your life for granted. Don’t take your future for granted. Do you know what your life’s purpose is? Do you know what will happen when you die? What if you lost everything tomorrow? The Bible has the answers about geology, the global flood, and the age of the earth, but it also has the answers to all the most important questions of life. And so much more than just answers for your mind, but also a life-long relationship for your soul.
©2017 Sara J. Mikkelson
- Marshark, Stephen. Earth: Portrait of a Planet. , Third Edition. 2008. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
- Hazlett, Richard. Hyndman, Donald. Roadside Geology of Hawaii. 1996. Sixth printing, April 2015. Mountain Press Publishing Company. Missoula, Montana. USA
- Wolfe, Edward W. Morris, Jean. Geologic Map of the Island of Hawaii. Paper made to accompany map I-2524-A. U. S. Geological Survey. Department of the Interior.
- Walker, Tas. A Giant Cause: The Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland: colossal volcanic eruptions during Noah’s Flood. Creation Magazine. 27(2). March 2005. Pgs. 28–34. Retrieved 5-11-17 http://creation.com/a-giant-cause