Wednesday, October 23, 2013
The sixteen grandsons of Noah
Secular history gives much evidence to show that the survivors of Noah’s Flood were real historical figures, whose names were indelibly carved on much of the ancient world …
by Harold Hunt with Russell Grigg
Ruins in Turkey. There is evidence suggesting that this country’s name is derived from that of Noah’s descendant Togarmah.
When Noah and his family stepped out of the Ark, they were the only people on Earth. It fell to Noah’s three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and their wives, to repopulate the Earth through the children that were born to them after the Flood. Of Noah’s grandchildren, 16 grandsons are named in Genesis chapter 10.
God has left us ample evidence to confirm that these 16 grandsons of Noah really lived, that the names the Bible gives were their exact names, and that after the Babel dispersion (Genesis 11) their descendants fanned out over the earth and established the various nations of the ancient world.
The first generations after the Flood lived to be very old, with some men outliving their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. This set them apart.
The 16 grandsons of Noah were the heads of their family clans, which became large populations in their respective areas. Several things happened:
- People in various areas called themselves by the name of the man who was their common ancestor.
- They called their land, and often their major city and major river, by his name.
- Sometimes the various nations fell off into ancestor worship. When this happened, it was natural for them to name their god after the man who was ancestor of all of them, or to claim their long-living ancestor as their god.
All of this means that the evidence has been preserved in a way that can never be lost, and all the ingenuity of man cannot erase. We will now examine it.
Read the rest of this article on Creation.com.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
WHERE ARE ALL THE PEOPLE?
by Don Batten
Six billion people live on planet Earth. That sounds like a lot of people. Well, I would not want to invite them all to a barbecue at my house! However, they could all fit into an area the size of England, with more than 20 square meters each. Many of us live in cities, so we have the impression that the world is bursting with people. However, much of the world is sparsely populated.
Nevertheless, many wonder at how the population could have grown to six billion from Noah’s family who survived the Flood that wiped out everyone else about 4,500 years ago. When you do the figures, it confirms the biblical truth that everyone on Earth today is a descendant of Noah’s sons and daughters-in-law. Not only that, but if people have been here for much longer, and there was no global Flood of Noah’s day, there should be a lot more people than there are—or there should be a lot more human remains!
Read the rest of this article on AnswersInGenesis.org!
Thursday, October 17, 2013Noah’s Flood—why?
by Russell M. Grigg
This article was originally posted on Creation.com.
In the last two issues of Creation magazine we have shown stamps with the biblical themes of ‘The Creation of the World’ and ‘Jonah and the Great Fish’, from Palau. In this issue, the ‘Noah’s Ark’ stamps are from the island nation of St Vincent, in the West Indies.
The ‘Noah’s Ark’ stamps from the volcanic island of St. Vincent in the eastern Caribbean Sea.
The artist has depicted the end of the Flood, with Noah’s Ark resting on a mountain under a rainbow,1 and a selection of pairs of various animals, including koalas and kangaroos.
Answers to various objections concerning the Flood—both scientific and practical—that skeptics have raised over the years have been published in many creationist books,2 films/videos,3 and magazines,4 so in this article we shall discuss the reasons why the Flood occurred.
REASONS FOR THE FLOOD
Genesis chapter 6 gives four reasons why God sent the Flood:
1. ‘The wickedness of man was great in the earth’ (v. 5).
2. ‘Every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually’ (v. 5).
3. ‘The earth was filled with violence’ (v. 11).
4. ‘The earth…was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth’ (v. 12). (All the people on earth had corrupted their way.)
The historical biblical record states, ‘And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt’ (Genesis 6:12). This is in sharp contrast to God’s declaration when he had finished creating the heaven and the earth, namely, ‘And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good’ (Genesis 1:31). It is astounding to consider that in the tenth generation from Adam the human race had become so wicked, evil, violent and corrupt that it was not fit to go on living. And of all mankind only four men and four women were spared, because they did not go with the great sin drift.
Q: Are these reasons adequate to have warranted the wholesale destruction of the human race?
A: The Bible tells us that mankind was created by God as a special being, made in God’s image, to live according to the rules which God has laid down. When mankind breaks those rules judgment follows. Why? Because God, as a result of His holiness and justice, has decreed to punish the wicked and disobedient. Sometimes this punishment is evident to all in this life, but the ultimate punishment awaits the Day of Judgment. ‘And it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment’ (Hebrew 9:27). This judgment is described in Revelation 20:11-15. In the case of those living on earth in Noah’s day, God adjudged that their deeds were such as to necessitate the penalty which He imposed.
John Calvin commented, ‘It [the whole earth] was not overwhelmed with a deluge of waters till it had first been immersed in the pollution of wickedness…that wickedness was too deeply seated in their hearts, to leave any hope of repentance.’5
Q: Why were the earth and animals destroyed too?
A: In so far as sin is a transgression of the law, it is guilt; in so far as it is a principle, it is pollution and defilement. Calvin said, ‘The earth was like a wealthy house, well supplied with every kind of provision in abundance and variety. Now, since man has defiled the earth itself with his crimes, and has vilely corrupted all the riches with which it was replenished, the Lord also designed that the monument of his punishment should there be placed: just as if a judge, about to punish a most wicked and nefarious criminal, should, for the sake of greater infamy, command his house to be razed to the foundation. And this all tends to inspire us with a dread of sin; for we may easily infer how great is its atrocity, when the punishment of it is extended even to the brute creation.’6
WHAT OF GOD’S MERCY?
God’s mercy regarding the Flood is just as evident as His judgment, and is seen in the fact that God provided a way of escape for those who were prepared to believe what He had said, heed the warning He gave, and avail themselves of the means of salvation which He provided by instructing Noah to build the Ark (Genesis 6:14-16).
Noah is described as ‘a just man’, ‘perfect in his generations’, who ‘walked with God’,7 and who ‘found grace in the eyes of the Lord’ (Genesis 6:8-9); he was also ‘a preacher of righteousness’ (2 Peter 2:5). From this it is very reasonable to conclude that his messages, perhaps preached from the platform of the partially completed Ark, included warnings of the coming judgment and invitations to his listeners to avail themselves of the one means of escape, which he was constructing. In the event, Noah and his family alone had regard to the wrath of God, and only eight people boarded the Ark in faith and were saved—Noah, his wife, his three sons, and their three wives.
RELEVANCE TO US TODAY
On one occasion Jesus said, ‘As the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be’ (Matthew 24:37). As we have seen, the days of Noah involved four types of iniquity: great wickedness, evil imaginations, violence and corruption, and these things have all become a way of life in the 1990s. When people are taught from kindergarten to adulthood through every branch of the media and the education system that the world made itself (and thus God is unnecessary or does not exist), and that they are nothing more than evolved animals, it is not surprising that they give themselves over to these sorts of behaviour. As a result, the Ten Commandments have become the ‘ten suggestions’, chastity is regarded as ‘neurotic inhibition’, immorality has become ‘the new morality’, perversion is ‘an alternative life style’, and the only absolute left in society is that there are no absolutes.8
Violence and immorality, rather than being abhorrent in society, have become the subject of entertainment. Some films today portray more than 100 acts of violence per hour. And it seems that few films can be made these days without showing specific acts of adultery or fornication. It has become ‘old-fashioned’ to speak out against this, so it is little wonder that this celluloid action is emulated in real life, as happened when a film dealing with gang violence, called Boyz N the Hood opened in 800 cinemas across the USA in 1991. One man was killed and 20 other moviegoers were shot, stabbed or beaten up in a wave of copy-cat audience violence which erupted in cinemas, drive-ins, and car parks.
The warnings given to Noah’s generation are terrifyingly relevant today. When God’s mercy is rejected, then His judgment must and will fall. But, as in the days of Noah, so now God has both given warning of the judgment to come and provided a way of salvation. The Ark was the only refuge from divine judgment then and it had to be entered by faith. As such it speaks to us of the Lord Jesus Christ, the only Saviour for sinful mankind today, whose death on the Cross must be appropriated by faith. ‘For by grace are ye saved through faith’ (Ephesians 2:8); ‘Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved’ (Acts 4:12). As the Apostle Paul declares, ‘I declare unto you the Gospel…By which also ye are saved…how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that He rose again the third day’ (1 Corinthians 15: 1-4).
REFERENCES AND FOOTNOTES
1. The stamps show some artistic licence—the rainbow should have red on the outside and blue (actually violet) on the inside, and the Ark shown is the traditional shape, whereas it was most likely to have been rectangular.
2. E.g. John C. Whitcomb, The World That Perished , Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Revised Edition, 1988. Ken Ham, Andrew Snelling, Carl Wieland, The Answers Book, Chapter 7, ‘Noah’s Flood: Where Did the Water Go?’; Chapter 12, ‘How Did Various Animals Get from the Ark to Isolated Places such as Australia?’, Creation Science Foundation, Brisbane, 1990, pp. 117-129, and 197-207.
3. E.g. The World That Perished , Films for Christ, Mesa, Arizona.
4. E.g. ‘Does Scripture Require a Global Flood?’ Creation magazine, March-May 1995, Vol. 17, No. 2, p.37. ‘Amazing “Ark” Exposé’: Could this be Noah’s Ark?’, Creation magazine, September-November 1992, Vol. 14, No. 4, pp. 26-38. ‘The Pitch for Noah’s Ark’, Creationmagazine, August 1984, Vol. 7 No. 1, p. 20. ‘Diseases on the Ark’, Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal , 1994, Vol. 8:1, pp. 16-17. ‘Safety Investigation of Noah’s Ark in a Seaway’, Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal , 1994, Vol. 8:1, pp. 26-36.
5. John Calvin, A Commentary on Genesis , The Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh, 1965, p. 217.
6. Ref. 5, p. 250.
7. It is worth noting that Noah’s great grandfather, Enoch, is also described as a person who ‘walked with God’ (Genesis 5:22, 24). Noah is thus seen as the descendant of a godly line of ancestors who reared their children in the knowledge and fear of God.
8. From McCarthy,T.J., The Plain Man’s Guide to Newagespeak.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
How Could Noah Fit the Animals on the Ark and Care for Them? —Part 2
The following is an excerpt from The New Answers Book 3 by John Woodmorappe, and can be viewed on AnswersInGenesis.org.
How Did the Animals Breathe?
The ventilation of the ark was not only necessary to provide fresh air but, more important, to dissipate body heat. A basic, non-mechanical ventilation system was sufficient for the ark. The density of animals on the ark, compared to the volume of enclosed space, was much less than we find in some modern, mass animal housing used to keep stock that are raised for food (such as chicken farms), which often require no special mechanical ventilation.
The Bible is not specific as to the kind and size of window on the ark. It is reasonable to believe that one relatively small window would have adequately ventilated the ark. Of course, if there were a window running along the top center section, which the biblical description allows, all occupants would be even more comfortable. It is also interesting to note that the convective movement of air, driven by temperature differences between the warm-blooded animals and the cold interior surfaces, would have been significant enough to drive the flow of air. Plus, wind blowing into the window would have enhanced the ventilation further. However, if supplementary ventilation was necessary, it could have been provided by wave motion or even a small number of animals harnessed to slow-moving rotary fans.
What Did Noah and His Family Do with the Animal Waste?
Figure 4. Animal enclosures with sloped, self-cleaning floors, emptying into a manure gutter or pit.
As much as 12 U.S. tons (11 m. tons) of animal waste may have been produced daily. The key to keeping the enclosures clean was to avoid the need for Noah and his family to do the work. The right systems could also prevent the need to change animal bedding. Noah could have accomplished this in several ways. One possibility would be to allow the waste to accumulate below the animals, much as we see in rustic henhouses. In this regard, there could have been slatted floors, and animals could have trampled their waste into the pits below. Small animals, such as birds, could have multiple levels in their enclosures, and waste could have simply accumulated at the bottom of each.
The danger of toxic or explosive manure gases, such as methane, would be alleviated by the constant movement of the ark, which would have allowed manure gases to be constantly released. Second, methane, which is half the density of air, would quickly find its way out of the window of the ark. There is no reason to believe that the levels of these gases within the ark would have remotely approached hazardous levels.
Alternatively, sloped floors in animal enclosures would have allowed the waste to flow into large central gutters and then into collection pits, allowing gravity to do most of the work. Noah’s family could have then dumped this overboard without an excessive expenditure of manpower.
The problem of manure odor may, at first thought, seem insurmountable. But we must remember that throughout most of human history, humans lived together with their farm animals. Barns, separate from human living quarters, are a relatively recent development.
While the voyage of the ark may not have been comfortable or easy, it was certainly doable, even under such unprecedented circumstances.
Figures 5 and 6. Some floors could allow waste to fall below and could be stocked with hay or sawdust to soak it up. It is possible that a clean-up would not even be required for the duration of the year-long Flood.
Did the Animals Hibernate?
If animals hibernated, this would, of course, have greatly alleviated the need to feed, water, and remove the waste of the ark animals. Critics point out that the vast majority of animals on the ark were not of the type that hibernate. However, this ignores the possibility that hibernation (or its equivalent in tropical environments, such as aestivation) may have been much more widespread in the animal kingdom than it is today.
It is, of course, also possible that God put the animals into a sleep for most of the time that they were on the ark. But all this is moot. Whether supernatural or natural, hibernation was not necessary for the animals to have been adequately cared for on the ark. It only would have made it easier.
Were Single Pairs Sufficient?
Critics point to the fact that, when a single pair of animals is released, it usually does not lead to a lasting population. But this ignores the fact that, under modern conditions, the released pair must compete against pre-existing animals, causing it to usually lose out. In contrast, the ark-released animals were introduced to an environment free of competitors. Experience has shown that single-pair introductions usually do lead to lasting populations when there are few or no competitors. One must also keep in mind that nowhere in the Bible does it claim that all animals that were released from the ark gave rise to lasting populations. There have been and continue to be extinctions, often caused by man.
Critics have also argued that single pairs are not sufficient to be able to transmit the genetic variability of the parent, pre-Flood population. This is a half-truth. In most traits, a single pair contains the most-commonly occurring gene forms (that is, alleles) that occur in the population at large. The rare alleles, which a single pair will seldom have, are usually uncommon in the population and of little or no relevance to its survivorship or fitness. Mutations in the post-Flood world could have created a new set of rarely occurring alleles.
Consider, for example, the human blood types. The relevant possibilities are: A-only, B-only, both A and B (that is, blood type AB), and neither A nor B (that is, blood type O). There are also rare blood types, but these, again, are just that—rare, and of little relevance to human survival. They are one-step mutational derivatives of the common blood types. A single pair of individuals would very likely have the A and B alleles represented within it. Rare blood types would be re-established by mutations of the common alleles after the Flood, and would probably not be the same as their pre-Flood counterparts.
Didn’t the Ark-released Animals Eat Each Other?
Those who attack the Bible say that the carnivores released from the ark would have soon eaten up the herbivores, leading to the eventual extinction of both. This falsely assumes that the only sources of meat available to the ark-released carnivores were the ark-released herbivores. Such was not the case.
The post-Flood world must have had plenty of rotting corpses of various animals that were not buried in the Flood sediments. Experience has shown that most carnivores prefer to eat carrion than to kill live animals for food. Also, the Flood must have left behind many residual pools of water and marine life. As these waters retreated or dried up, fish and other marine animals were stranded in lakes, ponds, and streams on land. This could also have served as food for the ark-released carnivores. In fact, experience shows that many normally non–fish-eating carnivores, such as lions, will eat fish if it is available, and do so in preference to hunting their usual prey.
These alternative sources of food must have diverted the attention of predators for a considerable period of time after the Flood. This would have allowed the prey populations to build up to an appreciable size before they became the main target of the predators.
How Did Marine Life Survive?
What about the animals that were not on the ark? Critics have said that the Flood must have been so destructive that nothing could possibly have survived. How could they possibly know this? As a matter of fact, fish and other marine life produce an astonishing number of larval offspring. Only a tiny number of these need to survive in order to propagate their kind. And while much of the Flood waters may have been violent, many lateral and vertical parts of the water column would have allowed sea life to survive during the Flood.
How Could Freshwater and Saltwater Fish Coexist in the Flood?
Most saltwater fish cannot live in freshwater, and most freshwater fish cannot live in saltwater. So how could both have survived the Flood? To begin with, the intolerance are not symmetrical in nature. Most ocean fish can survive considerable reductions in the salinity of water, even though they cannot go all the way to the near-zero salinity of fresh water. In contrast, most freshwater life is intolerant of more than a slight elevation of salt levels in the water.
There is a range of brackish water (about 5–10 percent the salinity of current ocean water) that would be tolerated by nearly all ocean fish as well as a significant fraction of freshwater fish. What about those organisms that cannot tolerate this? Variations in salinity according to geographic area, and the probable stratification of denser, saltier water, would have created pockets of considerable salinity and other pockets that approached freshwater qualities. Sensitive organisms could survive there.
Finally, it should be noted that organisms that are extremely intolerant of either salinity or reductions in salinity vary from species to species. The narrow range that they tolerate probably arose since the Flood by the mechanisms of natural selection of some of the great genetic variability built into the original created kinds (and still observable today) and in some cases through mutations also. In fact, there is evidence from selective breeding that tolerance or intolerance to salinity can be markedly changed in a matter of generations.
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
How Could Noah Fit the Animals on the Ark and Care for Them?—Part 1
The following is an excerpt from The New Answers Book 3 by John Woodmorappe, and can be viewed on AnswersInGenesis.org.
According to Scripture, Noah’s ark was a safe haven for representatives of all the kinds of air-breathing land animals and birds that God created. While it is possible that God made miraculous provisions for the daily care of these animals, it is not necessary—or required by Scripture—to appeal to miracles. Exploring natural solutions for day-to-day operations does not discount God’s role: the biblical account hints at plenty of miracles as written, such as God bringing the animals to the ark (Genesis 6:20; 7:9, 15), closing the door of the ark (Genesis 7:16), and causing the fountains of the deep and the windows of heaven to open on the same day (Genesis 7:11). It turns out that a study of existing, low-tech animal care methods answers trivial objections to the ark. In fact, many solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems are rather straightforward.1
How Did Noah Fit All the Animals on the Ark?
To answer this question, we must first ask how many animals were actually on the ark. Critics have fantasized the presence of millions of animals overloading the ark. In actuality, the Bible makes it clear that the cargo was limited to land breathing vertebrate animals—corresponding to modern birds, mammals, and reptiles, as well as their extinct counterparts.
Was every species on the ark? No! From chapters such as Leviticus 11, it is obvious that the created kind (min in Hebrew, in Genesis 1:11–12, 21, 24–25) was a much broader category than the modern term of classification, species. Current baraminological2 research suggests that the created kind most closely corresponded to the family level in current taxonomy. However, to be conservative in this study, the genus was set as equivalent to the original created kind. As for the clean animals that entered the ark in seven pairs, this added a modest number of additional animals, notably bovids (cow-like mammals) and cervids (deer-like mammals). Under these conservative assumptions, there were no more than 16,000 land animals and birds on the ark.
According to the Bible, the ark had three decks (floors). It is not difficult to show that there was plenty of room for 16,000 animals, assuming they required approximately the same floor space as animals in typical farm enclosures and laboratories today. The vast majority of the creatures (birds, reptiles, and mammals) are small. The largest animals were probably only a few hundred pounds of body weight.
It is still necessary to take account of the floor spaces required by large animals, such as elephants, giraffes, rhinos, and some dinosaurs. But even these, collectively, do not require a large area. God would likely have sent to Noah young (and therefore small, but not newborn) representatives of these kinds so that they would have a full reproductive potential for life after the Flood to repopulate the earth (Genesis 7:1–3). Even the largest dinosaurs were relatively small when only a few years old.
Without tiering of cages, only 47 percent of the ark floor would have been necessary. What’s more, many could have been housed in groups, which would have further reduced the required space.
What about the provisions for the animals? It can be shown that the food would have filled only 6 to 12 percent of the volume of the ark, and the potable water only an additional 9 percent of the same.3
What About the Dinosaurs?
There are only several hundred genera of dinosaurs known. What’s more, the continuous invalidation of old names largely offsets the continuous discovery of new kinds of dinosaur genera.4 Only a modest fraction of all dinosaurs reached giant size. About 16 percent of dinosaur genera had an adult weight in excess of ten tons, and almost half of dinosaur genera weighed no more than a ton when mature.
However, the foregoing is academic because dinosaurs could have been represented as young. Interestingly, according to the most recent models of dinosaur maturation, even the largest sauropod dinosaurs were no more than several hundred kilograms in weight by the time they were just over a year old,5 which could have corresponded to their time of release from the ark.
What Did the Dinosaurs Eat?
Dinosaurs could have eaten basically the same foods as the other animals. The young representatives of the large sauropods could have eaten compressed hay, other dried plant material, seeds and grains, and the like. Carnivorous dinosaurs—if any were meat-eaters before the Flood—could have eaten dried meat, reconstituted dried meat, or slaughtered animals. Giant tortoises would have been ideal to use as food in this regard. They were large and needed little food to be maintained themselves. There are also exotic sources of meat, such as fish that wrap themselves in dry cocoons.
Figure 1. This is a cross-section view of a possible design of the interior of the ark. The proposed skylight roof could be opened. This might be the covering when “Noah removed the covering of the ark” (Genesis 8:13).
How Were the Animals Cared For?
Anti-Bible critics have compared the challenges of caring for the animals with that of modern zoos. This is fallacious. We must distinguish between the long-term care required for animals kept in zoos and the temporary, emergency care required on the ark. The animals’ comfort and healthy appearance were not essential for emergency survival during one stressful year, where survival was the primary goal.
Studies of non-mechanized animal care indicate that eight people could have fed and watered 16,000 creatures. The key is to avoid unnecessary walking around. As the old adage says, “Don’t work harder, work smarter.”
Therefore, Noah probably stored the food and water near each animal. Even better, drinking water could have been piped into troughs, just as the Chinese have used bamboo pipes for this purpose for thousands of years. The use of some sort of self-feeders, as is commonly done for birds, would have been relatively easy and probably essential. Animals that required special care or diets were uncommon and should not have needed an inordinate amount of time from the handlers. Even animals with the most specialized diets in nature could have been switched to readily sustainable substitute diets. Of course, this assumes that animals with specialized diets today were likewise specialized at the time of the Flood. But that may not have been the case in the ancestral kinds that were taken on the ark.
Figures 2 and 3. With Noah being over 500 years in age, it would make sense that he had the knowledge to be able to incorporate automatic feeding and watering systems where they only had to be refilled occasionally.
Animals with Special Diets
Many challenges to the reliability of the biblical account of Noah’s ark, based on animals’ feeding requirements, are steeped in mythology. Do captive anteaters necessarily require ants? No! Neither do most insect-eating animals require insects in their diet. Nor do most animals that eat only live prey in nature necessarily require moving prey in captivity. (For the few that do, it would not have been difficult to provide a rudimentary live-animal feeder.)
Even the most “fussy” animal kinds today contain individual representatives that can depart from the foods their kind normally eats in nature. For example, although most koalas eat nothing but fresh eucalyptus leaves, there are individual koalas that will subsist on dried eucalyptus leaves. Likewise, some individual pandas will accept dried bamboo stalks.
1. Baramin is a term coined by creation scientists to describe the original created kinds. It comes from the Hebrew words bara (meaning “create”) and min (meaning “kind”).
2. For an in-depth, documented discussion of this and related topics in language that is understandable to lay people and students, see John Woodmorappe, Noah’s Ark: A Feasibility Study
3. Woodmorappe, Noah’s Ark: A Feasibility Study, p. 17–21, 95–98.
4. M.J. Benton, “How to Find a Dinosaur, and the Role of Synonymy in Biodiversity Studies,”Paleobiology 34 no. 4 (2008): 516–533.
5. T.M. Lehman and H.N. Woodward, “Modeling Growth Rates for Sauropod Dinosaurs,”Paleobiology 34 no. 4 (2008): 264–281.
Monday, October 14, 2013
80 whales buried mysteriously in Chilean desert
Marine graveyard is evidence for Noah’s Flood
by Tas Walker
This article was originally published on December 1, 2011, on Creation.com.
Image from Daily Mail
A complete fossil whale skeleton in the Chilean desert.
Researchers from the USA and Chile reported, in November 2011, a remarkable bone bed on the west coast of northern Chile near the port city of Caldera, about 700 kilometers (440 miles) north of the capital, Santiago.1 Excavations uncovered the remains of some 80 baleen whales of which more than 20 specimens were complete (figure 1).2 They also found other kinds of marine mammals including an extinct dolphin with tusks and a sperm whale.3
The previous year, construction workers upgrading the Pan-American Highway discovered the fossil site in a road cut just north of Caldera. Since then, teams of scientists led by paleontologist Nick Pyenson4 from the Smithsonian Institute and Mario Suarez from the nearby Museo Paleontologico de Caldera5 have been working to excavate the fossils while the road works were temporarily suspended.
The fossils alongside the highway are confined to a sandstone ridge about 20 meters (70 feet) wide and 240 meters (800 feet) long (figure 2). Most whales were about 8 meters (25 feet) long, and perfectly preserved. Some whales were so close together that they overlapped one another (figure 3). The site in a corner of the Atacama Desert is now well above sea level and over a kilometer from the shore. Suarez said it was well known that whale bones jutted out of the ridge, which was given the name Cerro Ballena, or Whale Hill.6
Figure 2. Photo illustrates the extent and thickness of the outcrop containing the whale fossils. Larger cobbles and pebbles are seen at the base of the outcrop behind the person crouching, and on the top of the cut on the other side of the road. Coarser lenses, possibly of pebbles or shells, are visible in the embankment behind the man. Image from Daily Mail.3
Figure 3. Whales overlapping one another. Image from io913
Paleontologists were thrilled to find the treasure trove, describing it as “very unusual”. Pyenson thinks the whales all died “more or less at the same time” after they were trapped in a lagoon. Others suggest they became disoriented and beached themselves. Paleontologist Erich Fitzgerald from Museum Victoria in Australia said it’s possible the remains accumulated over thousands of years. Whale expert Hans Thewissen from Northeast Ohio Medical University thought the whales might have gathered in a lagoon and been stranded by an earthquake or storm. After the connection to the ocean closed, the lagoon dried up and the whales died.
The puzzle of how these marine creatures died has caught news headlines with one reporting “Fossil Bonanza Poses Mystery”. Another asked, “How did 75 whales end up in the desert?”
Interestingly, some of those posting comments on these news reports suggested the creatures perished in Noah’s Flood. Robert Raeburn of Western Australia said, “The whales probably swam there when the whole world was covered in water, about 4000 years ago at the time of Noah. They would then have been stranded when the waters assuaged (drained back) to expose the dry land. … This all makes sense when viewed from a ‘Bible’ perspective.” An email friend suggested the same to Mario Suarez, one of the lead paleontologists. Not surprisingly, this idea generated a deal of web comments.
The field evidence for large-scale catastrophe is overwhelming as these research scientists have reported. What stops people making the obvious connection between these fossils and Noah’s Flood? It’s the million-year ages assigned to the fossils. On one comments thread Holly from the USA responded to the Noah’s Flood idea with, “Nothing from the Bible perspective makes sense, since 4,000 years ago that area wasn’t covered with water. However it was about 2 million years ago.”
But the 2-million-year-figure is the number paleontologists gave for the age of the fossils. Actually, they said the whales probably died between 2 million and 7 million years ago—that is early Pliocene to early Miocene (according to the International Stratigraphic Chart7). But where did they get those ages from?
Figure 4. Late Cenozoic sedimentary basins on the west coast of northern Chile. From Feldmann et al.11
First, they assign the ‘series’ and ‘stage’ by the field relationships among the strata and according to the fossils found therein.8 At this site they said that the fossil dating is complicated and probably not sufficiently precise to determine if the whales all died at the same time. Second, once the series and stage has been decided they simply read the ‘age’ in millions of years off the chart.
Figure 5. Immense boulder conglomerate toward the base of the Caldera basin indicating the high energy processes associated with the early sediment fill. Boulder deposits such as this have been connected with the receding waters of Noah’s Flood.14 Image from Pyenson Lab15
But how were the numbers determined for the chart? By agreement of an international committee which bases its thinking on the geological philosophy of uniformitarianism—a philosophy that only allows slow and gradual processes as explanations, or local catastrophes at the very largest.9 In other words, uniformitarian geologists are quite comfortable to hypothesise a storm, earthquake or tsunami, but not the global Flood.
On the other hand, drawing on multiple lines of evidence, biblical geologists consider the Flood a real event in history and the fossil layers to have been deposited mostly during this event. The Flood washes away the millions of years because it falsifies the assumptions on which the million-year ages are based. Most biblical geologists would accept that the standard geological column represents the general order of deposition during the Flood, with some of the uppermost parts of the column being deposited in the 4,300-year period afterwards.10
The sandstone strata containing the whale fossils are contained within a local area called the Caldera basin (figure 4).11
Similar localized basins are found at a number of places along the western coast of Chile. Although the basins are relatively small for Flood deposits, the characteristics of the sediments in these basins (figures 2 and 5) and the abundant fossils contained in them indicate that deposition took place during a period of rapid and major coastal subsidence.12 Coastal subsidence of this nature is exactly what we would expect in the second part of the Flood when the ocean basins sank, the continents rose and the floodwaters flowed into the ocean. And major coastal subsidence explains the rapid burial of the whales and other creatures because rapid burial was needed soon after death to preserve the fossils. After the ocean basins had mostly subsided and the waters had almost completely drained from the land, the whales and other animals that perished in the catastrophe were buried—toward the end of Noah’s Flood. As Robert Raeburn commented on one of the web news reports, the mystery disappears when we interpret the rocks and the fossils from a Bible perspective.
1. Bhattacharya, A., Chilean desert yields trove of whale fossils, 18 November 2011, blogs.nature.com/news/2011/11/chilean_desert_yields_trove_of.html.
2. Gramling, C., Researchers Rush to Recover Whale Fossils From Highway Project, 18 November 2011, news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2011/11/researchers-rush-to-recover-whale.html.
3. How did 75 whales end up in the desert? Rows of prehistoric bones unearthed in one of the most significant discoveries of its kind, 21st November 2011, www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2063973/Whales-desert-Prehistoric-bones-unearthed-Chiles-Atacama-desert.html.
4. Pyenson Lab, Oct 2011 and Nov 2011 posts, nmnh.typepad.com/pyenson_lab/.
5. Museo Paleontologico de Caldera, www.cepchile-paleontologia.es.tl/Museo-Paleontolôgico-de-Caldera.htm.
6. Vergara, E. and James, I., Whales In The Desert: Fossil Bonanza Poses Mystery, 19 November 2011, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/19/whales-desert-fossil-_n_1102761.html?ref=green&icid=maing-grid10P-I-P-Ehtmlws-main-bbP-I-P-Edl6P-I-P-Esec1_lnk3P-I-P-E114655.
7. International Stratigraphic Chart, www.stratigraphy.org/column.php?id=Chart/Time Scale.
8. See for example: Walsh, S.A. and Suarez, M.E., New penguin remains from the Pliocene of Northern Chile, Historical Biology 18(2):115–126, 2006; p. 117 for a description of how ages are assigned to sedimentary strata.
9. Murphy, M.A. and Salvador, A. (Eds.), International Stratigraphic Guide—An abridged version, International Subcommission on Stratigraphic Classification of IUGS, International Commission on Stratigraphy, Chapter 2. Principles of Stratigraphic Classification, www.stratigraphy.org/upload/bak/princ.htm.
10. Oard, M.J., The geological column is a general Flood order with many exceptions, Journal of Creation 24(2):78–82, 2010.
11. Feldmann, R.M., Schweitzer, C.E., Encinas, A., Neogene decapods crustacean from Southern Chile, Annals of Carnegie Museum 78(4):337–366, 2010.
12. Encinas, A., Finger, K.L., Nielsen, S.N., Lavenu, A., Buatois, L.A., Peterson, D.E. and Le Roux, J.P., Rapid and major coastal subsidence during the late Miocene in south-central Chile, Journal of South American Earth Sciences 25:157–175, 2008.
13. What are the fossilized remains of more than 80 whales doing in the driest desert on Earth? io9.com/5861723/what-are-the-fossilized-remains-of-more-than-80-whales-doing-in-the-driest-desert-on-earth.
14. Oard, M.J., Hergenrather, J. and Klevberg, P., Flood transported quartzites—east of the Rocky Mountains, Journal of Creation 19(3):76–90, 2005.
15. From Pyenson Lab, Dispatch 7: Walking outcrop, measuring section, 6 October 2010, nmnh.typepad.com/pyenson_lab/2011/10/dispatch-7-walking-outcrop-measuring-section.html.