The archaeological and faith questions created by NAMI's discovery - Part II: young earth Creationist science
The Fertile Crescent
In Part I of this series addressing the archaeological and faith questions created by NAMI's discovery, I explained why mainline science will never be able to make sense of this possible discovery of Noah's Ark. That should have surprised no one. How can mainline science understand Noah's Ark when it has been unable to see the evidence of the kind of Flood necessary to raise such a large vessel to the heights where NAMI found it? Nor has mainline science noticed evidence of a second worldwide dispersion of mankind from the Ancient Near East that might be found continuous with evidence found inside this vessel.
In this Part II, I address the same issues in the light of young earth Creationist science. Since Creationism is widely regarded as teaching a young earth, for the rest of this newsletter I will refer to the young earth school simply as 'the Creationists.' But Creationism was not the term used by this school before the eighties when it was known as 'Flood science.' Flood science was launched in 1961 with the publication of The Genesis Flood, a book by John C. Whitcomb (b. 1924) and Henry Morris (1918-2006).
The authors borrowed their core explanation of the Flood from George McCready Price (1870-1963). Price had developed a way of looking at the earth's Creation in 24-hour days by seeing fossils, oil, and coal has having been formed by Noah's Flood. His theory which further supposed that every form of life that God created were saved by Noah's Ark accorded with what Ellen G. White, founder of Price's Seventh Day Adventist Church, had seen in dreams and visions. The latter is probably the reason that Whitcomb and Morris neglected to mention where they obtained their Flood science.
Distancing themselves from things like Flood science was an important reason why, in the middle years of the twentieth century, conservative Christians rejected being called Fundamentalist and began embracing the term Evangelical. Billy Graham, who led this switch, backed evangelical theologian Bernard Ramm's book that taught an old earth and a local Flood and opposed Price's teaching of a young earth and worldwide Flood. These new evangelicals did not wish to be classified with what, in the wake of the Scopes trial, was coming to be seen as anti-science Fundamentalism. This same admiration of science became the chief reason for the popularity of Whitcomb and Morris' scientific explanation of Noah's Flood even if their book was specifically written as a response to Ramm's attack against a worldwide Flood.
The switch from Flood to Creation science occurred in the eighties after then law student Wendell Bird published an article in the Yale Law Journal suggesting that Creation could be taught in public schools as a form of science. Most Americans did not believe in evolution thus, though essentially the same teachings, Creation science has become far more popular than Flood science. Though the courts did not agree that Creationism could be taught as science, Creationism began winning over evangelicals. By focusing on Creation against evolution, most evangelicals probably don't know the extent to which Creation science depends on Price's theory of Noah's Flood.
As I have explained in previous newsletters, the Creationist theory is amazingly simple: all the earth's fossils from petrified shells and bones to fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas are not seen as testifying to an ancient earth but were created in a single year by Noah's Flood. Because fossils (e.g. oil and gas) are found deep within the earth, Noah's Flood had to be of such magnitude as to displace the surface of the earth to depths as much as miles below.
Price denied the progressive ordering of fossils over millions of years as taught by mainstream geology though he allowed an order which he taught as laid down by the Flood: heavier shell fish being at the bottom, vertebrate fishes which floated upon their death lying above that. As he explained, dinosaurs, mammals, and men were progressively more mobile and thus able to flee from the rising waters of the Flood. That explains why they are found in the higher geological strata. What conventional geology attributes to the changes of life forms over the passage of time, Creationists attribute to their varying mobility.
Neither human remains nor artifacts are found among the deeper fossils. The Creationists explanation is that a Flood capable of displacing the entire surface of the earth would also destroy antediluvian human remains and artifacts. Following Whitcomb and Morris, the large Creationist organizations altogether deny human fossils, supposing that all human remains and artifacts date from after the Flood. Pleistocene (Ice Age) deposits contain human remains, but today's Creationists deny they are from the Flood. They challenge what early nineteenth century scientists saw as diluvian, the actual deposits from the Flood. Not only do they believe in an Ice Age, they believe it occurred after Noah's Flood.
Dinosaur bones are among the fossils, hence the Creationists believe that a pair of each species of dinosaur were among the animals that boarded Noah's Ark. Despite being saved by the Ark, dinosaurs no longer roam the earth. Creationists believe they became extinct in the Ice Age or shortly thereafter. If you understand this and the three preceding paragraphs, you know the essence of Creation science even if various Creationists have different explanations for just how the Flood occurred and for why the rocks and fossils appear as they are presently found.
It is not my purpose to dispute the Creationists' geological interpretation. It makes more sense than Darwinian evolution. If blind chance can create beautifully-designed flowers, lobsters, the human eye, the marvelous mechanisms found in microbiology, and a beautiful sunset above the mountains all from cosmic dust, why cannot a Flood sent by the Creator himself produce all the things that Creationists claim? Still, because Creationists declare that antediluvian remains were destroyed by the Flood, their geological interpretation presents archaeological problems. Human artifacts made of stone, tusks, and certain hardwoods and metals are harder and tougher than soft (birdlike) dinosaur bones. There are also fossil insects and ferns. However severe the Flood, why aren't Creationists able to point to the remains of those who the Lord sent the Flood to destroy?
There are some Creationists who point to things like human footprints among dinosaur tracks. How are footprints and tracks preserved if these remains are from the Flood? Creationists who understand the logic of their theory wisely eschew these claims. They also reject other things like artifacts found in coal beds. If human remains could have been preserved by the Flood, why aren't they commonly found among the fossils?
As I mention above, human remains are found in the formerly diluvian deposits now attributed to the Ice Age. If these are the deposits of Noah's Flood, as I and the former diluvian geologists claim, that destroys the Creationists' explanation of the fossils that is key to their defense of 24-hour Creation days. That may be why Creationists declare the Ice Age to be after the Flood.
Importantly, Creationism is not for unbelievers. Their theories do not convince unbelievers to become believers. Instead, Creationists aim to teach believers who desire a scientific explanation for things like Noah's Flood, dinosaurs, and the appearance of an ancient earth. This explains their insistence on 24-hour Creation days as the only "uncompromising" reading of Genesis 1. Unbelievers have no problem with reading the days of Genesis as 24-hour days. Many of them delight in that reading.
Creationists' archaeological problem with NAMI's discovery is not just their inability to relate the findings of Noah's Ark to an antediluvian civilization whose archaeological remains they believe to be entirely destroyed. It is also their inability, no less than that of mainline science, to trace a second worldwide dispersion of man from Noah's Ark. Just as does mainline science, they deny that man's archaeological remains reveal two worldwide dispersions. They stand with an older version of mainstream archaeology in seeing all the remains of mankind as dispersing from the apex of the Fertile Crescent.
Importantly, the Creationists challenge mainstream geology, but they do not challenge mainstream archaeology, where I contend the problem of not seeing the evidence of Noah's Flood exists.
The problem with Creationists (and an older mainstream) archaeology is that the worldwide dispersion from the apex of the Fertile Crescent does not stem from the earliest human remains but from Transcaucasian remains that date to the third millennium before Christ. The latter perfectly accords with the date of the Flood as given in the Bible, with the radiocarbon date published for NAMI's discovery, and with pottery (published only by Randall Price though mentioned in the Epilogue of my book) that NAMI has found inside the Ark! That ought to be a bell ringing loud enough to awaken the entire world.
It must first awaken "believers." Unfortunately, this conflict with the archaeological assumptions of Flood science explains why the Creationists organizations have not been happy with the radiocarbon dating of wood from NAMI's discovery however much it lines up with the date of the biblical Flood. For all these reasons, we should not have been surprised that most of the major Creationists organizations have not favored NAMI's discovery as being the possible remains of Noah's Ark. It explains why some Creationists who do embrace NAMI's discovery are rejecting the radiocarbon dating and are claiming that the pottery is intrusive!
In addition to these archaeological problems of Creationist science, there are also faith problems with Creationist science that I discuss in the two articles below. Creationists defense of a worldwide Flood and 24-hour Creation days have given them a reputation of fidelity to the Scriptures. I have no doubt that they intend to be just that, but as I explain below, this is not in fact the case. Creationist science's conflict with mainstream science is by no means fatal. Its conflict with the Scriptures certainly will be.
It is however possible for believers to have a science that is perfectly in line with the most literal reading of the Scriptures. We must keep in mind that readings long taught as the natural and proper reading will also seem the literal reading of Scripture. Unbelieving critical scholars (though most of them would deny that they are unbelievers) read these same verses of Scripture as the creation of ancient men who believed the earth was flat. It is unbelieving scholars who agree with the Creationists that the days of Genesis are 24-hour days! Teaching people how to read the Scriptures is imposing some human light on these divinely inspired Scriptures. Instead, what we ought to do is to use these divinely inspired Scriptures to understand archaeology, history, and everything else that we think we know.