Earth's Pre-history

The various "creationist" literature often propagates denials of the "evolutionary" origins and development of life on earth, finding ways to ridicule things like geologic dating, and other subjects which are hard for uninformed people to understand. However, in the late 1900's, information became widely available which makes the basics of the earth's pre-history much more obvious.

In the late 1900s, core samples were drilled from the glaciers in Greenland. These projects took many years to complete (they were done at more than one site). The ice cores produced show annual ice layers going back some 250,000 years (Britannica Online says that, due to progressively greater compression in the lower layers, individual ice layers are distinguishable for only about the most recent 18,000 years). This has given us information about earth's climate during this quarter-million-year period; even residues from the smelting of metals in Europe during the Bronze Age have been detected in layers from that period. (This drilling has been continued in Antarctica.)

Also, in the late 1900's, accurate maps of the earth's ocean floors became widely available. Raised-relief maps from this reveal the most prominent and obvious feature of the earth's surface, the "mid-ocean ridges" (the most obvious example being the North Atlantic Ridge). These are not just "ridges", but huge undersea mountain ranges which result from the seafloor crustal plates moving apart from each other, and magma from below coming up between them to form more basaltic bedrock. These mountains show progressively more sedimentation, going away from the spreading zones, until ultimately the topography of the basaltic bedrock becomes completely covered (the oldest sediments, farthest from the spreading zones, are about 180 million years old, with progressively older ones below the recent layers at the top; even the evolution of the micro-organisms which made up the plankton, whose remains are found in these sediments, can be seen in these different age levels). And the underlying basaltic bedrock shows magnetic bands, resulting from periodically-changing polarities in the earth's magnetic field, as the solidifying magma took on the magnetic field. These bands correspond to one another, forming mirror images of each other, on each side of a spreading zone. (The "transform faults" or "fracture zones" [displacing splits across the spreading zones] result from these solid plates moving across the earth's spherical surface.)

Another obvious feature of plate tectonics is the long chain of undersea mountains which comprise the Hawaiian Ridge (going west-northwest from Hawaii) and then the Emperor Seamount Chain going north-northwest, nearly to the Kamchatka Peninsula. The Hawaiian Islands have an active volcano on their southeasternmost island (and a new island has been building up from the seafloor, southeast of that island). This results from the Pacific Plate moving west-northwestward over a place where there is a "hotspot" (possibly resulting from a vertical current of magma "burning a hole" in the plate). Going west along the Hawaiian Islands, the islands show more effects of prolonged erosion, until they become a series of reefs ending in the Midway Islands and Kure Island, and then disappear beneath the surface.

What can we infer from this, in terms of the realities of our own time? The "fundamentalist" parts of the two largest religions in the world (Christianity and Islam), as well as of Judaism, believe the book of Genesis to be factual (including its "creation" and "flood" myths). Probably the scripture which is most-cited in support of capital punishment is Genesis 9:6, which is part of the Noah story.

Religion doesn't have to involve the rejection of science. Do we want to do such things as the killing of helpless people, based on myth and ignorance?


Dave's Home Page