It was third period and the bell could not ring quickly enough. I was sitting in my World History class in high school anxiously awaiting lunch. In front of the class, Ms. Agee was describing “the Bering Land Bridge” that connected Asia and North America. As we flipped to the corresponding chapter in our textbooks, we were introduced to images of saber-toothed cats and wooly mammoths. With the temperature outside reaching close to 90°, it was hard to relate to a historical period in which much of the planet was covered with sheets of ice and glaciers. As the minutes slowly ticked on, I was introduced to a historical period known as the Ice Age—a period in our Earth’s history, that, according to my textbook, happened millions of years ago.
Believe it or not, both creationists and evolutionists agree that there was once an Ice Age. The difference is in when this event occurred, what caused it, and how long it lasted. The United States Department of Interior/U.S. Geological Survey published a paper titled “The Great Ice Age” that was funded by our tax dollars [see http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/ice_age/ice_age.pdf]. In that article, the author Louis L. Ray observed: “The Great Ice Age, a recent chapter in the Earth’s history, was a period of recurring widespread glaciations. During the Pleistocene Epoch of the geologic time scale, which began about a million years ago, mountain glaciers formed on all continents, the icecaps of Antarctica and Greenland were more extensive and thicker than today.”
A topic like the Ice Age might appear, at first glance, odd in a Christian magazine. But many faithful Christians have questions about it. Consider for just a moment that almost all children are introduced to this historical period in the classroom. Have you ever thought about what they are actually learning regarding this period and how it will ultimately affect their faith? How does the Ice Age fit into their worldview? Are your children and grandchildren able to harmonize an Ice Age within the context of God’s Word? (Or what about you?) While some might not consider the Bible an intrinsically historical document, young people today need to know how historical events fit into the grand timeline—a timeline that is consistent with accounts from God’s Word. When one can see how “World History” and world events coincide with the Bible, it all becomes real, and faith is strengthened.
There can be little doubt that the Ice Age was real. One can hardly look at El Capitan or Half Dome in Yosemite National Park or hike the Continental Divide Trail in Glacier National Park without witnessing firsthand the awesome power of past glaciers. Normal river erosion causes “v” shaped valleys. But advancing ice sheets like those of the Ice Age produced a “u” shaped cross profile in many of these areas. As the ice sheets advanced, they would often pick up boulders, soil, loose rocks, which would act as an abrasive polisher for mountain faces in the path of the growing ice sheet. Those seeking “proof” for the Ice Age can look in three different areas.
1.) Geology—geologists have identified rocks on many continents that have been cut, polished, scratched, or scoured by advancing glaciers. In addition, when the glaciers melted they would often leave deposits such as till (composed of clay, sand, gravel, and boulders), glacial moraines, and drumlins that are readily identified today, revealing the pathway of past glaciers.
2.) Past temperatures—Scientists have studied ice cores and sedimentary rocks in an effort to determine temperatures in the past. Studies have shown that water containing heavier isotopes have a higher heat of evaporation, thus its proportion would be decreased in colder (Ice Age) conditions. By measuring isotopes, researchers believe they can reconstruct temperature data from the past.
3.) Migration fossils—Scientists have uncovered fossils that help track migration patterns during this period. There are clear indications of animals that could adapt to the cold, whereas some of the animals spread into lower altitudes because they could not tolerate the colder climates. Taken together, sufficient evidence exists that for a time ice and snow covered much of northern United States, as well as Canada, Eurasia, Greenland and Antarctica.
So what triggered this catastrophic event? While evolutionists are quick to prescribe evolutionary dates to the Ice Age, they are not as quick to provide a cause. In the official government publication on the Great Ice Age Louis Ray declared: “Many attempts have been made to account for these climatic fluctuations, but their ultimate cause remains unclear.” In addition, evolutionists find themselves in the peculiar position of defending multiple ice ages as a cyclic event, even though they do not have a good explanation for why they occurred. Creationists, on the other-hand, recognize that the evidence given above fits a climatic change that would be consistent with the period following the Noahic Flood.
My World History textbook, written from an evolutionary perspective, remained silent on cause of this event. The Bible, however, does not. In Genesis 7:11 the Bible describes where the water for the Flood came from. Moses wrote, “On that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.” In Genesis 8:2, the text indicates: “The fountains of the deep and the windows of heaven were also stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained” (emph. added). The Hebrew word mayan, translated “fountains,” means things like “spring, well, or fountains.” Commentators Keil and Delitzsch describe it as “an unfathomable ocean.”
Two points should not be missed: (1) the fountains were “broken up” and (2) the depth from which these fountains came. The sheer force of breaking these deep layers would have been enough to have caused massive fissures. This breaking open of the “fountains of the deep” implies that the ocean itself rose up and helped cover the land. Second, recall from geology that the temperature of the Earth increases as you descend through the layers. The Earth is composed of a series of layers we deem the crust, mantle, and core. The crust is the outermost portion of the earth and extends approximately 25 miles down. The mantle extends further down about 1800 miles, and the core makes up the remainder of the Earth. If things are breaking open in the “unfathomable ocean” at great depths, does it not make logical sense that the temperature closer to the mantle would have been hotter?
Thus, God’s fury upon a sin-sick world would have caused massive earthquakes resulting in large cracks or rifts deep within the Earth’s crust, explosively releasing subterranean water and triggering volcanic activity. We know today from the fossil record that there are volcanic rocks interspersed between the fossil layers that were obviously deposited during or just after Noah’s flood. We also know from ice core samples that volcanic ash was present. For instance, Anthony Gow took 7,100 feet of core samples from nine different Antarctic glaciers and found over 2,000 individual volcanic ash falls embedded within the ice. While I don’t agree with Gow’s dating of 10,000 – 30,000 years ago (primarily because he uses radio-carbon dating which is based on 7 assumptions that all must be correct), the data for volcanoes during this period is irrefutable. [see, Gow, Anthony (1972), “Glaciological Investigations in Antarctica,” Antarctic Journal of the United States 7, no. 4:100-101.]
Having not witnessed a Global Flood from an angry God, we have a hard time of truly envisioning the devastation God unleashed on this sin-sick world. As tectonic plates shifted below, there would have been tsunamis, volcanoes, and torrential rains as God punished all land-dwelling creatures. The heat released from the “fountains of the great deep” would have undoubtedly warmed the oceans, causing an increase in evaporation and the amount of water in the atmosphere available for precipitation. At the same time, the ash from volcanoes all across the globe would have very effectively blocked out much of the sun’s rays, cooling the land. This combination of cool land and increased precipitation would have easily resulted in snowfall that fell much faster than it melted, allowing ice sheets to build up.
The climatic change of warmed oceans and cooled land would have persisted for a long time even after the Flood waters had abated. The land bridge that my high school World History teacher described was one of the by-products for this time period. Consider that following the Flood the Bible records the Tower of Babel incident. According to the text, people were already making bricks (Genesis 11:3). And then God confused their languages and dispersed them. This ice bridge would have allowed both the descendants of Noah, as well as land-dwelling animals, to easily migrate from America to Asia. Eventually, however the seas would cool, producing less evaporated water and decreasing the snow supply for the continents. Additionally, as the ash from the volcanoes settled, the sun’s warming rays would penetrate, causing the land bridge and ice sheets to melt, resulting in the topography we see today.
Consider the evidence. We know the Ice Age was real. But only one theory has a plausible cause for it. How much faith does it take to continue embracing an evolutionary theory that acknowledges this historical period but has no explanation for it? The Ice Age was real, and its existence fits in beautifully to God’s Word.