Review by Greg Neyman
© Old Earth Ministries
Andrew Snelling of Answers in Genesis addresses the issue of finding marine fossils high up in the stratigraphic column in this first of a series of geologic evidences for the Genesis Flood.1 Snelling notes that by reading the flood account in Genesis, we would expect to find rock layers all over the world that contained billions of dead animals that were rapidly buried by the flood, and that, according to Snelling, is exactly what we find. However, this oversimplification by Snelling fails to examine the science involved, which totally negates Snelling's conclusions.
There are many examples of fossils in high mountainous regions. Snelling gives two examples. First he discusses the fossils of the Grand Canyon. He mentions the Redwall Limestone, which has many common types of fossils, and then he goes on to state "These marine fossils are found haphazardly preserved in this limestone bed." Snelling concludes that these creatures were "catastrophically destroyed and buried."
Anyone who studies fossils knows that the vast majority of them are found "haphazardly" arranged within the rock matrix. Crinoid stems, which he states are found with their columnals separated from one another, are almost always found that way. Crinoid stems that are whole are extremely rare. As a crinoid decomposes, its supporting tissue that holds the stem pieces together decays, and the stem falls apart. This process does not indicate it was catastrophically destroyed...it merely decayed and its pieces fell to the ocean floor. Fossils die, they fall into the sea floor in a random way, and they appear to be haphazardly arranged.
The opposite of this, and what Snelling would have his readers believe, is that normal, non-catastrophic deposition of fossils happens in an orderly manner, with the fossils neatly arranged in the rock matrix. However, scientists don't find fossils all lined up in a row in the rock. They are always arranged randomly. When things die, they just fall randomly to the bottom. Dead organisms don't do things neat and orderly.
Another problem with Snelling's model is fossil distribution. In the Grand Canyon layers, we find marine organisms. If all life on earth were destroyed in a worldwide flood, we would also find fossils of mammals, dinosaurs, and mankind, mixed in with the marine organisms. However, we don't see this "haphazard" mix of fossils. Marine organisms are limited to ocean-deposited rocks. Fossils of mammals are mostly found in continental deposits such as riverbeds.
Snelling's second example is the mountains of the Himalayas, which have fossil marine organisms high up on their slopes. Snelling says these mountain ranges were pushed up by earth movements at the end of the flood. However, this ignores one key point. If you push up a pile of mud, as Snelling is suggesting, it will slump and spread out. You don't form jagged mountain peaks with mud. The Himalayas were made when the rocks were already lithified (hard). Using Snelling's model of mountain forming at the end of the flood would result in a gently rolling countryside, not jagged mountain peaks.
The conclusion that they were catastrophically destroyed and buried indicates that Snelling is interpreting the fossil data based on his need to prove the flood did it. He is taking his young earth pre-suppositions and forcing it to fit with the scientific results that we see in the rocks. However, if we examine the actual processes that make the rocks, it is easy to see that his conclusion is wrong.
To explain how the ocean waters could have flooded the land, he states there had to be two mechanisms.
Water had to be added to the ocean. The source of this water are the "fountains of the deep" from Genesis 7:11. I agree that underground sources of water contributed to Noah's flood (local), but the Bible does not support Snelling's claim that the fountains were open for 150 days. He gets this from Genesis 7:24, which states "the waters prevailed on the earth one hundred and fifty days." However, in Genesis 8:2, it says "The fountains of the deep and the windows of heaven were also stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained." This verse clearly states that the rain and the fountains were stopped at the same time (40 days). However, this point is not critical to the issue at hand, since we both agree there were "fountains of the deep."
The ocean floor rose. Snelling makes the claim here that molten lava would have raised the sea level by more than 3,500 feet. No reference is given to support this claim. I presumed it came from the reference mentioned earlier in the paragraph, which refers to another Snelling article in Answers Magazine (rebutted here). However, this article also fails to mention the 3,500 foot claim. It is unclear where this data comes from. However, we do know that the young earth model for a global flood "requires" the rise in sea level, thus the number is probably another example of a young earth requirement, being quoted as fact, when in fact there is no geologic evidence to back it up.
Snelling finally appeals to Psalm 104:8, which he says describes the mountains being raised at the end of the flood. However, according to scholars Psalm 104 is poetry about the creation, and not about the flood. To read more on this, click here and here.
Randomly arranged fossils in a worldwide flood would make no distinction between mammal and marine organisms, and they would be mixed together in the rocks. However, when scientists examine the rocks, they are always separate. Snelling's model of rapid mountain building at the end of the flood would not have created any tall, jagged mountain peaks, but rather a rolling countryside.
It is clear that all the proof Snelling has is from his preconceived young earth science, which takes the young earth biblical interpretation, and then bends science to make it fit a young earth. Snelling gives no hard scientific evidence to support his claims, because he has none to give.
1 High & Dry Sea Creatures, by Andrew Snelling. Answers Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 1, January-March 2008. pp. 92-95. Also found online here.
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