White Sands – Creation Clues for Kids Vol 6 No 1

White Sands

The howling dry wind whipped all around, making my hair go wild.  The sand was so deep, it swallowed my feet more and more with every step. My sweaty skin felt sticky as it mixed with the pure white sand.  Sometimes the wind was so strong in my face that I felt like I could barely get a breath. This is a little picture of what it was like on our mini adventure in White Sands National Monument in New Mexico.   When I first visited this place, I had no idea how much fun it would be. We got to sled down the enormous sand dunes.  It may have looked a little like snow sledding in that pure, white sand, but it was definitely not as cold as snow – even on a cold winter morning in this desert!

A sand dune (pronounced “doon”) is a giant hill or pile of loose sand grains. They can be made by wind or flowing water.  Dunes usually move slowly, but keep their shape while moving because the wind or water makes their shape.

Odd Sand

White Sands is a desert, made up of some very special sand.  This sand is made up of the mineral called gypsum (pronounced “jip-some”).  Unlike other types of sand, gypsum can partly dissolve in water.  It acts a little like salt. Gypsum sand like this would not last long on a beach.

Did you know? There are lots of different kinds & colors of sand – white sand, black sand, regular tan sand, and even green sand! These colors are made of different minerals. What makes them all sand is the size of their little sand grains.

White Rock

Why is this white sand so special? Normally, gypsum is solid like rock or a crystal – it isn’t usually found as sand.  Gypsum is very “soft” for a mineral. It’s so soft you can scratch it with just your fingernail!  Since it is so soft, but still hard like a rock, gypsum gets used in many different ways.  Artists use it to make sculptures.  Builders use it to make walls in houses. Farmers use it in soil to help crops grow.  Doctors use it to make casts around broken bones. If you have ever done a craft project with plaster of Paris, it is also made of gypsum.  You can even find gypsum in your toothpaste and some food!

Minerals are made up of chemicals designed to go together in a special way by God.  Minerals can form into beautiful crystals. Rocks are made up of minerals.

Flood

Where did all this white gypsum sand come from?  Well, this white sand actually points back to Noah’s flood that we read about in the Bible.  The Flood created many of the rock layers we have all over the world.  This includes layers of gypsum. We can’t know for sure how exactly the science of everything happened, since we weren’t there to see it. But, many scientists have used the Bible to make some good models of how this could have happened. The gypsum mineral probably came from Noah’s Flood. The Bible says that during the Flood, the “fountains of the great deep” broke up. This probably meant underwater volcanic eruptions and much more. Super-hot, extra-salty salt water probably mixed in with the lava coming from underground. Some of that “salt” in the salt water would be gypsum that would get buried with other mud layers in the Flood. The mountains rose up at the end of the Flood and for a while after. Water probably carried gypsum from rock layers down into a low place between mountains – a place called the “Tularosa Basin” (pronounced “Too-lah-rho-sa”). Being stuck between mountains, with nowhere to go, most water just had to evaporate in the hot sun, leaving the gypsum behind. Today we have mounds and mounds of white gypsum sand in the Tularosa Basin – White Sands, New Mexico.

From Wikimedia Commons – Public domain

Desert Plants

Even though White Sands is a desert that doesn’t get as much rain as other places, it still has a bunch of amazing plants and animals!  Since the ground is made of sand dunes that move slowly in the wind, only special types of plants can survive the moving sand around them as they grow.  Yucca plants grow very tall so that even when sand moves over them, they aren’t completely covered.  Plants trap water at their roots, making the gypsum sand stick close to the roots. This creates a chunk of almost solid ground underneath the plant, even when the rest of the sand has moved away. These plants show God’s amazing design in their ability to live well even in a desert.

White Critters

Do you like lizards? Did you know that there are white lizards, white mice, white spiders, and white moths all living in White Sands? These white creatures blend in with the sand, making them more “invisible” to the creatures who would like to have them for lunch.  Some of these special types of white creatures can only be found living in White Sands. These creatures got to White Sands and adjusted to the harsh desert environment using their special God-designed abilities.

Cartoon by Richard Gunther

Desert Creatures

Living in the desert can be hard, and not all creatures are up for the challenge. But, there are some creatures who have learned how to live here and have adjusted to the desert environment around them. God created animals with the special ability to adjust themselves to different environments. This is why many of the creatures in White Sands can survive.  God made creatures to be able to adjust because He loves variety – he loves putting different colors and shapes in His creation. Of course, not all creatures can adjust to the harsh desert environment. God made creatures with the ability to adjust themselves to fit different environments, but there is only so far that a creature can adjust.

Warning!

Don’t get adjusting confused with evolution! Creatures can adjust themselves a little, but they never turn into other types of creatures, no matter how long they adjust. Lizards can adjust their color, shape & size, but they will always be lizards – not any other type of creature!

Adjusting

Just like the creatures in White Sands, sometimes God puts each of us in different environments and sometimes we have to adjust. God has given you everything you need to adjust, if needed. Sometimes we need to be flexible when change comes and learn to do things differently than we used to do. But remember to always stay true to the special person God created you to be. Don’t let other people try to over adjust you into someone God did not want you to become. Like the creatures at White Sands, you were not made to evolve into something else!

Video

We made a video to teach you more about White Sands and show you how it looks!  With an adult, check it out on YouTube – it’s called “White Sands | Creation Clues | Episode 1” on the “Creation Clues” YouTube channel.

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About Creation Clues for Kids

CCK is written by Sara J. Mikkelson.  Many thanks to Richard Gunther for sharing his cartoon! Special thanks to Dr. Andrew Snelling for geology review. If you have a question, comment, cartoon, or drawing about God’s creation that you would like to share, please write to Sara at: CreationCluesForKids@gmail.com

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Genesis: Paradise Lost | Movie Review

Poster for the Genesis Movie
From GenesisMovie.com

Years ago, when I first heard about this cool idea for a 3D movie of Genesis, I was very excited. Now after watching the movie, I am even more excited!  Our modern American culture has people’s minds saturated with evolutionary ideas. Even talking with Bible-believing Christians who don’t really believe in evolution, there are still webs of the evolutionary pictures woven into their minds of what “cave men” and dinosaurs were like.  These wrong worldviews are so embedded in people’s minds that it’s often difficult for them to visualize a truly Biblical picture of earth history. In writing about young earth geology, I always wish that you, the reader, could truly “see” in your mind what creation week, the global flood, and the ice age were really like. I can’t tell you how exciting it is to see a movie like the new “Genesis: Paradise Lost” movie that can help people get a better picture of what Biblical earth history looks like.

On Monday, November 13th, and Thursday, November 16th, the “Genesis” movie will be airing in theaters around America at special Fathom events.  I recommend that you get your tickets as soon as possible – you do not want to miss out on seeing this incredible movie! I highly recommend it for anyone high-school age and above.  It would be very good for many in younger age groups as well, of course, at the discretion of parents. Young people especially need to see this movie, as it will help them better picture the Biblical worldview of earth history.

Find tickets at this link: https://genesismovie.com/

What is it that makes “Genesis: Paradise Lost” different from other Christian films or young-earth creationist documentaries? The animations, and the fact that it is available in 3D, help people visualize what creation week might have looked like. Minds of young people are constantly saturated with media picturing non-Biblical worldviews – I think that this movie may help many young people get a better grasp on the Biblical view of science and the Bible. My favorite part of the movie was when they were talking about Lucy and other supposed ape-men. They had the coolest animations for comparing these different skulls with human skulls.  This part really helps clearly illustrate the differences between human and animal skulls.

Pterodactyls in the Garden of Eden. Photo from GenesisMovie.com

There are a lot of great things that I love about the Genesis movie, but to be fair, I’ll be completely honest about two aspects of the movie I wasn’t as fond of. First, during the interviews, they don’t put the name or expertise of the people they are interviewing on the screen. I can understand how this is artistic license, but knowing the names of the people and how reliable they are on each topic is important. Knowing your sources helps build trust.  I knew who most of the people were, just by seeing their faces, but most of the audience probably will not. Second, the portrayal of the creation of Adam and Eve didn’t give a personal feel of God tenderly making each of them by hand and walking with them in the Garden of Eden. I can imagine this would be very difficult to portray, and I understand that both of these aspects are merely artistic license, but I want to be completely transparent in my review of the movie.

As a whole, “Genesis: Paradise Lost” is definitely a movie that every Christian should see.  This movie is supposed to be just the beginning of a trilogy, so I will warn you that it only covers creation through the fall of mankind. As a geology person, I cannot wait until they come out with a movie like this that portrays the global flood. I really hope that Eric Hovind, the man who initiated the making of this documentary, will do part two on the flood very soon. People need to see more movies like this that can help them clearly visualize earth history from a Biblical worldview!

Updated 11-15-17:

The writer of this article saw a special preview that did not include any names or titles of the people being interviewed. However, in the theatrical release the producers corrected this issue and put the names and titles of people being interviewed. Thank you to the producers for changing this!

Article Copyright October 2017, Sara J. Mikkelson

Watch the trailer:

Oil, Natural Gas, and a Young Earth

From pixabay.com

Up and down, up and down . . . I watched the giant oil pump that looked a little like a bird pecking at the ground.  Growing up in the panhandle of Texas, oil wells and cotton fields were an ordinary part of the countryside scenery.  Pictures of these oil wells are part of local art. In college, most of the other geology majors I knew were only interested in oil geology because they wanted to get rich quick. Oil geology was not usually a topic I got excited about because I couldn’t relate to those fellow students. I love science, especially geology and wanted to learn more so that I could minister to and teach others, not so I could get rich quick. But, the geology of oil and natural gas really is amazing and puzzling. The search for oil has forced scientists to map the geologic layers of many different areas around the globe and allowed us to learn more about geology.

Last time, we talked about coal geology and many of the misunderstandings people have about coal (read that article here). People tend to have similar misunderstandings about oil and natural gas. Today, we will address three of these

  1. Geologists must believe in evolution and billions of years to find oil
  2. Oil and natural gas come from dinosaur bones
  3. It takes long periods of time to make oil and gas

First, you do not have to believe that earth is billions of years old and all life evolved to find oil. Physical geology is important for discovering oil wells, but the history of life doesn’t matter as much. Most of oil discovery is about testing, experiments, and finding physical patterns – not about evolution and long ages. It doesn’t matter how old you think the layers are, the main point is the way they are arranged physically.  Special vibrations are made to test an area and see where a layer changes, much like an underground version of a radar. Certain rock types and patterns in the layers are used to discover good places for oil. It’s all about observing and testing today. Finding oil and gas is physical, observational science (read more about the different types of science here).

Frog in algae. From pixabay.com

Addressing the second misunderstanding,  that oil and gas comes from dinosaur bones. We already talked about this with coal last time, but the way oil and gas form is a little different. Most geologists agree that the chemicals that make up of oil and gas probably came from algae and plankton like we find growing on water today.   While there’s a chance that dinosaurs bodies breaking down could contribute to the chemicals that make up oil and gas, algae and plankton are the main accepted sources at this time. It is  possible to make oil and gas non-living chemicals. Oil and gas can also be made from brown lignite coal under the right conditions. For oil and gas forming, it’s all about the conditions – temperature, chemicals, rock types, and rock patterns.

Oil and gas come from certain “source rocks” that likely trapped algae and plankton.  But, to be pumped out of the ground, they have to be in just the right type of rock – rock that works like a sponge with lots of tiny open spaces that are connected. Since it’s usually hard to get oil and gas out of the “source rocks” that it originally formed in, they have to migrate to these special sponge-like “reservoir rocks”.  People often think that it takes very long periods of time for the oil and gas to move from the source rock to the sponge-like reservoir rock, but that isn’t necessarily the case. It’s hard to observe this moving happening today because it is all happens deep underground. We know it must come from the source rocks because of the chemicals in the source rocks match the chemicals in the oil. The movement of groundwater helps move oil and gas because oil floats on water rising above it, and gas “floats” on the oil. Oil and gas are often found in layers above underground water sources –  water makes the movement go a lot faster than it would without water.

An example of where oil is found.  Not made to scale. Diagram copyright Creation Clues, 2017

Now that you know that discovering oil is about observational science (not history and evolution) and you have a better idea of what oil and gas are made of, we can talk more about how long it takes to form oil and gas. This covers the third common misconception – that oil and gas takes long periods of time to form. Oil has been made in labs anywhere from days to a few years. Oil is also being made under the ocean today when underwater volcanic activity heats up the water around some plankton and algae. We can see this happening in the Gulf of California.  With water covering everything and lots of volcanic activity happening during the global flood, it’s easy to see how oil could have formed during and after the flood.

Ocean vent made by underwater volcanic activity. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Oil can be made today both quickly in the lab and naturally in the ocean.  The oil and gas we find today and use for fuel are not a problem for the young-earth model.  However, there are questions about whether or not oil and gas could last for millions of years. If oil is too close to the surface, it will decay. Oil and gas usually have to be in a sponge-like reservoir rock, and there has to be the right type of rock on top of the reservoir rock to act like a cap and keep the oil and gas from escaping or decaying because of things close to the surface. Some will say that the heat “pasteurizes” the oil and gas, keeping it from decaying, but this is difficult to prove. Oil may be similar to soft-tissue finds in dinosaur bones – something that shouldn’t be around after millions of years.

It turns out that oil and gas formations that we find today line up much better with the Biblical young-earth and global flood model of geology. Just like coal, oil and gas are a wonderful gift of provision that God provided to us through the catastrophic judgement of the global flood. The whole science of geology is filled with examples like these where God used something bad (the flood) to make something useful for us today. And just like kids who have received a gift from a parent, people groups do bicker and war over prized areas where this gift of oil is found. But, that doesn’t make it any less of a gift. Be sure to remember to thank Him today for the gifts He has provided to you. And always remember, He is the master of turning painful circumstances into blessing.

Copyright Sara J. Mikkelson, October 2017.

References:

  • Marshark, Stephen. Earth: Portrait of a Planet. , Third Edition. 2008. Section 14.3-14.6. Pg 489-500. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • Snelling, Andrew. Earth’s Catastrophic Past: Geology, Creation, & The Flood. Volume 2. Chapter 121. Pages965-76 . 2009. Third printing, October 2014. Answers in Genesis. Master Books. New Leaf Publishing Group. Green Forest, Arkansas, USA.
  • Snelling, Andrew. How fast can oil form? Creation Magazine 12(2):30–34. March 1990. Creation Ministries International. Retrieved 10-28-17. https://creation.com/how-fast-can-oil-form
  • Thomas, Brian. Osmium in Shale Reflects the Flood. Evidence for Creation. July 31, 2008. Institute for Creation Research. Retrieved 10-28-17. http://www.icr.org/article/osmium-shale-reflects-flood
  • Thomas, Brian. Did Natural Gas Take Millions of Years to Form? Evidence for Creation. August 8, 2011. Institute for Creation Research. Retrieved 10-28-17. http://www.icr.org/article/did-natural-gas-take-millions-years
  • Morris, John. Is Creation Thinking Useful?. Acts & Facts. 22 (4). 1993. Institute for Creation Research. Retrieved 10-28-17. http://www.icr.org/article/creation-thinking-useful
  • Clarey, Tim. Oil as a “Soft Tissue”. Science, Scripture, and Salvation podcast. October 6, 2016. Institute for Creation Research. Retrieved 10-28-17. http://www.icr.org/article/oil-soft-tissue
  • O’Brien, Jonathan. Wieland, Carl. Algae to oil:Algal ‘slurry’ turns to crude oil in minutes. Creation Magazine 37(3):55.July, 2015. Creation Ministreis International. Retrieved 10-28-17. https://creation.com/algae-to-oil
  • Wieland, Carl. Oil not always a ‘fossil fuel’. Creation Magazine 32(2):56. April 2010. Creation Ministries International. Retrieved 10-28-17. https://creation.com/oil-not-always-fossil

Coal Creation

I love asking questions. I usually enjoy answering questions, too, especially when they come from kids and other people who are just curious and really want to learn and understand. Of course, a lot of times, I don’t know the answers, but that just means it’s the perfect time for me to learn as well.  I hear a lot of questions almost every day with my work in creation science – some from people who really want to learn, some come from people who are just angry and hurt. Recently someone asked a question that went something like this “If the earth is only thousands of years old, how did dinosaur bones turn into coal and oil?” After reading this question, I realized that a lot of people really don’t know what coal and oil are made of and how they are formed. In this article, we will talk about coal, and next time, we will talk about oil and natural gas.

First, let’s do some “myth busting”. Here are three common myths about coal:

  1. Fossil fuels – coal, oil, and natural gas – come from dinosaur bones
  2. It takes long periods of time (millions of years) to make coal
  3. Diamonds are made of pressurized coal (learn about the origin of diamonds here)

Dinosaur – from pixabay.com

Without a doubt, coal is made of plant material – not dinosaurs. If you look through coal deposits, you will find lots of plant fossils. Where in the world did people come up with the idea that coal came from dinosaurs? Maybe because people automatically think “dinosaurs” any time they hear the word, “fossil”. But, there is so much more to fossils than just dinosaurs! Coal can be found in many different layers, or coal seems, around the world.  It can be found in layers below the rocks that contain dinosaur bones, in rock layers alongside dinosaurs, and in layers above them.  The most popular rock unit to find coal in is the carboniferous group, made up of the Mississippian and Pennsylvanian units (more about rock units and the order of the rock layers here).

Coalification is a type of fossilization. In traditional fossilization, minerals replace bone, turning it into stone. Turning plant material into coal is similar. The basic ingredients to make coal are: 1) plant material, 2) heat, and 3) pressure. Scientists have also found that chemicals in clay found with coal actually speeds up the process. Many people would tell you that coal forms slowly over long periods of time, as plant material in a swamp slowly gets covered by mud when the ocean rises to cover the swamp. However, there are a number of problems with this model. First, we don’t see anything like this happening today. The peat (mushed plant material) that makes up coal in the fossil record looks different than peat does in swamps today. Today, we can observe that peat in modern-day swamps looks different from peat that was made by catastrophic transport, like in a modern hurricane. The grain sizes and the way debris is spread around in fossil coal matches catastrophic transport peat much better than swamp peat.  If coal layers really did form slowly in a swamp, there would have to be other swamps on top of the first layers to create the next ones. But, tree roots from the swamps above would mess up the layer of coal below it.

Peat -PublicDomainPictures.net

The global flood, mentioned in the Bible, offers a much better model for coal formation than the ancient swamp explanation and actually fits better with what we see happening today. In this model, the violent flood waters would have gathered many different types of plants, turning them into peat. We see lots of different plant fossils in coal – including plants that don’t live in swamps. The peat would be deposited between layers of mud, where it would get the right amounts of heat and pressure, thanks to the mud layers on top of it and other flood factors. This flood model for coal is a “catastrophic transport” model, in which the plant material was transported away from where the plants grew and buried quickly.

Swamp. From freeimages.com

There have been other “catastrophic transport” models like this for coal formation in the past. These “catastrophic transport” models are not very popular because many people think that the plant material grew and coalified in the same place.  They point to evidence of “fossilized forests” – we do find upright fossil trees going through coal layers with roots in “ancient soil” buried underneath coal layers. But, a closer look at this fossil evidence shows more support to the idea of catastrophic transport – that the plant material was transported away from where it grew before it turned to coal. The roots of some of these fossil trees (lycopods) are hollow and broken. The rock inside these roots is made of different chemicals from the rock around the roots – if these tree roots grew in this soil, we would expect basically the same type of dirt inside and outside the roots.

Mount Saint Helens – from Wikimedia Commons

Also, trees don’t stay upright and unfossilized for thousands of years while they wait to get covered with the next layer of rock –  they would break off long before then! We have seen broken trees standing upright underwater at Spirit Lake next to Mount Saint Helens. Catastrophic, quick transport & burial better matches the evidence. Some people say that it would take longer than the few thousand years before the flood to grow all the vegetation on earth to make as much coal as we find. But, they are just guessing that the climate and growth rates we see today on earth have been the same in the past. The world before the flood was much more lush and tropical. With one big landmass – a super-continent instead of smaller broken continents like we have today – there may have been a lot more area for growth.

It doesn’t take millions of years to form coal – just the right conditions. Coal has been made in labs many times, taking days or weeks. Making coal (or any fossil) is all about conditions. Different conditions make slightly different types of coal. Coal starts out as peat, and the hotter the temperature, the “better” the coal.  Made at the lowest coal-forming temperatures, lignite (spelled with an “L”) is the least pure type of coal, containing 60-70% carbon. Next in line is the common bituminous coal. The best type of coal for burning is anthracite that contains 92-98% carbon, formed at the highest coal-forming temperatures. If it gets too hot, the coal will turn into graphite, like a common pencil “lead”.

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of what coal is and how it was made. Next time, we will explore how oil and natural gas are formed. Realizing that the global flood formed coal and other fossil fuels puts things into perspective.  Think about it – coal has been an extremely important part of history. It has helped provide necessary warmth for countless people over the years. Yet, it was formed by a disastrous global flood that destroyed almost everything on the earth.  The flood was part of God’s righteous judgment – a good judge doesn’t let criminals go without just punishment. But, through the judgement and destruction, we can also see the amazing signs of His mercy and grace. He took destruction and turned it into something useful, beautiful, and even life saving – He used the flood to make coal

To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified ~ Isaiah 61:3

References:

  • Marshark, Stephen. Earth: Portrait of a Planet. , Third Edition. 2008. Section 14.7. Coal: Energy from the Swamps of the Past. Pg 500-509. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • Snelling, Andrew. Earth’s Catastrophic Past: Geology, Creation, & The Flood. Volume 2. Chapters 70, 71,85, 119, 120. Pages 549-68,584-86, 675-81, 953-63. 2009. Third printing, October 2014. Answers in Genesis. Master Books. New Leaf Publishing Group. Green Forest, Arkansas, USA.
  • Morris, John. 2011. On the Origin of Coal. Acts & Facts. 40 (6): 18. Institute for Creation Research. Last accessed 10-6-2017. http://www.icr.org/article/6093
  • Morris, John. 2003. Did Modern Coal Seams Form in a Peat Swamp? Acts & Facts. 32 (8). Institute for Creation Research. Last accessed 10-6-2017. http://www.icr.org/article/did-modern-coal-seams-form-peat-swamp
  • Morris, Henry M. Those Fossil Fuels. Evidence for Creation. Institute for Creation Research. Last accessed 10-6-2017. http://www.icr.org/article/those-fossil-fuels
  • Schönknecht, Gerhard. Too much coal for a young earth? Journal of Creation 11(3):278–282. December 1997. Creation Ministries International. Last accessed 10-6-2017. https://creation.com/too-much-coal-for-a-young-earth
  • King, Hobart. Coal:What Is Coal and How Does It Form? Sedimentary Rocks. Rocks. Geology.com. Last accessed 10-6-2017. http://geology.com/rocks/coal.shtml

New Human Footprint Discovery?

Footprint in snow From pixabay.com

The late afternoon sun was beginning to sink. Waves lapped up onto the sandy beach, erasing footprints and leaving a perfectly smooth surface of wet sand. The newly smoothed sandy surface, just waiting to catch new footprints, reminded me of the peaceful feeling of finding a wide field of fresh new snow, without any footprints or marks yet. Whether you can relate better to the feelings of wet sand between bare toes as they make footprints along the beach, or the feeling of being the first person to make tracks through fresh snow, you make tracks either way. You make tracks that reflect who you are – big person, small person, bear, or kitten. You make tracks that show evidence of what you did and where you went.

Human footprint in the sand From pixabay.com

Baby feet Photo from pixabay.com

Fossil footprints can show evidence of where creatures went and what they did – if scientists can figure out who made the tracks, which is always a big challenge. Some interesting fossil prints that look an awful lot like human footprints were recently discovered on the island of Crete, Greece. Human footprints are unique from animal prints. We don’t make claw marks in our footprints and we make certain shapes that show our arches, heels, and the balls of our feet. Our toes are very unique – We have a big toe on the inside of each of our feet, and the toes get progressively smaller until you get to the pinky toe. As silly as it sounds, maybe one of the most memorable ways to picture this is with the old nursery rhyme: “This little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home, etc.” working from the biggest toes to the littlest ones. Many animals have toes that are all the same size. This progression of “big toes to little toes” was seen in these newly discovered fossil footprints and there were no claw marks.

Another unique thing about human toes is that our big toes face forward. Apes and chimpanzees have big toes, but their big toe points outward like our thumb, making their feet look a lot like our hands. These fossil footprints from Crete showed forward-facing big toes like our feet. They look a lot like normal human footprints. If they look so similar to humans, why don’t we just call them human footprints? Because of the rock layers they are found in, these footprints would be some of the oldest human fossil evidence and that presents a problem for the evolutionary view of how humans came into existence.

Gorilla foot, with outward-facing “big toe”
Photo from pixabay.com

At a supposed 5.7 million years old, found in Miocene group rock layers (more about rock layer groups & ages here), these footprints would never be considered human by the evolutionary camp. Forward-facing human-looking big toes were thought to be more advanced or more evolved than the thumb-like big toes of apes. This is sooner than they thought humans had forward-facing toes. Ardipithecus ramidus, or “Ardi” for short, was thought to be a missing link, but this fossil has side-facing toes like an ape, and is younger than these footprints. Many scientists are skeptical of “Ardi” anyway, but finding evidence of forward-facing human-like toes in rock layers this old is still a challenge for evolutionary thinking. These fossil footprints make it look like our ancestors’ feet must have looked a lot like modern human feet earlier than evolutionary thinking would first assume.

Human foot
From pixabay.com

Maybe our ancestors’ feet looked like modern humans because they were fully human all along. The Laetoli footprint fossils are some other old human-like footprints, discovered before the Crete discovery, and they also seem to look a lot like modern human feet.  Now, some people might say that the Crete footprints look more “primitive” than our feet – they have more narrow heels and less dramatic arches than we do. But, keep in mind the variety in humans we see today – different eye colors, height, facial features, sizes, skin colors, and much more. None of those variations are better or more “primitive” than others – they are just different and part of our individual uniqueness. Different nations and people group have cultural and physical differences. In the past, there were other people groups that may have looked different that you or me, but like our modern people groups, they were all still people, just like us. No better, no worse. If someone studied my footprints, they might be able to tell that I have relatively narrow heels and wide toe boxes and that I tend to walk around barefoot (partly because most shoes don’t fit comfortably – the heels slip and the toe boxes are too tight). I can’t help but wonder if people studying my fossil footprints might think that I must be some sort of primitive human, or perhaps some advanced form of human who walks differently and is continuing to evolve.

Island of Crete in Greece
Photo from Wikimedia commons

Another one of the big problems that these fossil footprints present for evolutionary thinking is that they were found on the island of Crete, Greece – in Europe – while most of the other oldest human-looking fossils have been found in Africa. Current thinking on human evolution says that humans evolved first in Africa and then spread, but these Greek fossils are older than most of the African human-looking fossils. In another very interesting find by an entirely different group, scientists discovered a jaw that had some similarities to human jaws, also found in Greece in similar rock units (same age according to evolutionary thinking). There’s still a lot of research that needs to be done on this fossil, and I can’t say that it is definitely human or not at this point, but it certainly is interesting that it was found close to these footprints. This is not a problem for the Biblical view of human origins. We believe that humans were created fully human from the beginning, and that after the global flood and Tower of Babel (see Genesis 11), the people spread across the earth. In this view, the layers seen in Crete, capturing these fossil footprints really aren’t that much older than the fossils in Africa.

So what’s the take-away? We have always been and always will be humans – uniquely made in the image of God. You are not an accident descendant from animals, but lovingly created by God as His child just a few thousand years ago, and new scientific discoveries continue to confirm this. May you always remember that you are fearfully & wonderfully made with purpose.

References:

  • Uppsala University. (2017, August 31). Fossil footprints challenge established theories of human evolution. ScienceDaily. Retrieved 9-7-2017. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170831134221.htm
  • Gierliński, Gerard D. , Et al. Possible hominin footprints from the late Miocene (c. 5.7 Ma) of Crete? Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association. Available online 31 August 2017. Science Direct.com. In Press, Corrected Proof. Accessed 9-20-2017. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S001678781730113X
  • Levin, Harold. 2010. The Earth Through Time, 9th edition. Chapter 17: Human Origins.  Pg 538-61. John Wiley & Sons Inc. United States.
  • Wieland, Carl. Ardipithecus again. Published 10-04-2009. Creation.com. Creation Ministries International. Accessed 9-20-2017. https://creation.com/ardipithecus-again
  • Sarfati, Jonathan. Time’s alleged ‘ape-man’ trips up (again): Response to ‘One Giant Step for Mankind’Time magazine cover story, 23 July 2001. Journal of Creation 15(3):7–9. December 2001. Creation Ministries International. Accessed 9-20-2017. https://creation.com/times-alleged-ape-man-trips-up-again
  • Williams, Alexander R. ‘Oldest’ hominid footprints show no evolution! Creation Magazine. 15(4):32. September 1993. Creation Ministries International. Accessed 9-20-2017. https://creation.com/oldest-hominid-footprints-show-no-evolution
  • Thomas, Brian. Laetoli Footprints Out of Step with Evolution. Article posted on August 11, 2011. Instititue for Creation Research. Accessed 9-20-2017. http://www.icr.org/article/6266/
  • University of Toronto. (2017, May 23). 7.2-million-year-old pre-human remains found in the Balkans: New hypothesis about the origin of humankind suggests oldest hominin lived in Europe.  ScienceDaily. Retrieved 9-19- 2017. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170523083548.htm
  • Thomas, Brian. Did Humans Evolve from ‘Ardi’? . Article posted on 10-6-2009. Institute for Creation Reserearch. Retrieved 9-20-2017. http://www.icr.org/article/4975/

 

The Human Immune System – Purpose

Triceratops – “Monoclonius” dinosuar would look similar to this. Photo from pixabay.com

What is wrong with me? I thought as I caught a glimpse of my pale face and the dark bags under my eyes in the mirror. I was getting tons of sleep, but still felt exhausted and struggling to do basic tasks. Things just got worse, so I eventually went to the doctor (usually a last-resort for me). After a weekend of taking antibiotics that did absolutely no good, I went back to the doctor who tested blood and told me that I have “mononucleosis”. Unfortunately, she did not mean that I had a genuine “Monoclonius” fossil – a dinosaur type similar to Triceratops, originally named by one of the founders of North American paleontology, Edward Cope, but that has since been mostly proven to be merely babies of other types of dinosaurs (learn more about Cope and the infamous bone wars here).

There is no medicine or treatment for “mono”, also called the “kissing disease”. All that can be done is to let the human immune system do its job.  Of course, anything that lightens the load on the immune system helps – sleeping, drinking lots of water, taking vitamin C, etc. In our modern American culture, our minds tend to go straight for medicines when we get sick, but the human immune system on its own is an incredible thing. Our bodies were designed to defend, fix, and maintain themselves. Isn’t that an amazing thought? The human body uses many different defense mechanisms and organs on multiple levels –  Skin, red and white blood cells, mucus, the lymphatic system, and others are all part of the immune system.

Witnessing my own immune system working overtime every day for months (and continuing to work), two questions stuck in my mind:

  1. Why did our Creator, God give us immune systems if He created a perfect world (see Genesis 1:31)?
  2. Why is the human immune system flawed, if God created it perfect? Some people’s immune systems do not do their job right, or grow weak and fail them. Other people’s immune systems attack their own body, causing lots of problems. Either of these could result in serious sickness or death.

Digging into the first question, the simplest answer could just be that God created the immune system because He knew we would need it later. He knew ahead of time that Adam and Eve would choose to rebel against Him, bringing pain, sickness, and death into the world. We don’t know what the world God originally created was like – we were not there to observe it, so all we know is what is written down in the history of the Bible.  But we do know that, even today, defending against disease is not the only purpose of the immune system.

Border Collies are often used as sheepdogs

Sheep – from pixabay.com

Your immune system acts like a sheepdog. The sheepdog is known for defending their sheep against wolves and other creatures with an appetite for fresh lamb. Sheepdogs are also used to help herd the sheep, keeping these unruly animals in their place, and helping the shepherd lead them in the right way. These dogs have both aggressive & more gentle jobs. The immune system defends our body against harm, much like a sheepdog defends his sheep. But, the immune system also helps with maintenance of our body and “herding” good bacteria, among other things.  The spleen is part of the immune system – it helps clean bacteria from the blood, and cleans out old blood cells.  The immune system “herds” micro-organisms, for example, by controlling the population of good bacteria in your gut (bacteria is definitely not all bad – your body needs some), and keeping it where it belongs. One of the most important jobs of the immune system is to recognize which cells belong to your body, and which do not.  This amazing system of your body is hard at work all the time – not just when you are sick.

See the spleen in this diagram. From pixabay.com

The second question I asked was why our wonderfully designed immune system is so flawed and prone to do its job wrong for some people.  Disease and malfunctioning immune systems were definitely not part of the “very good” creation.  Just because a painting is worn and torn does not mean that the art was poorly done or that the painter doesn’t care about it.  In the same way, our immune systems are flawed today from genetic mutation, disease, cancer, etc. But, that doesn’t mean that it was poorly designed or that God no longer cares about the people He created. The reason why our bodies are flawed is that we live in a fallen world – a world where Adam and Eve, the first people, chose to rebel, bring sin into the world and as a consequence, death, disease, and thorns.  God doesn’t just leave us in our misery – He offers us a way out, and a promise of a new creation, new earth, and new bodies to all those who accept His invitation.

Then I heard a loud voice from the throne:
“Look! God’s dwelling is with humanity, and He will live with them.  They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.  Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away.”
Then the One seated on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new” . . .
Revelation 21:3-5

©August 2017, Sara J. Mikkelson

References:

Four Explosive C’s of Volcanoes

A volcanic crater

The dreariness of the cloudy, damp afternoon air was negated by my energy and excitement as I walked along the path, stopping every few steps to be enamored with the little things around me.  Suddenly, I saw something through the trees that made me gasp.  I kept on walking to get a better view at the end of the path.  A few feet in front of where I stood, the ground suddenly dropped into a giant, steep crater in the ground.  The view was beautiful and mind blowing.  I tried to imagine what it would have looked like with fresh, hot lava exploding out of this place, like it had when it was first formed.  Volcanoes can make many different amazing rocks and land formations.  Last week, I wrote about two types of lava flows, pahoehoe and A’a (read that article here).  But, a volcano is so much more than just flowing lava.  Today, let’s explore five formations made by volcanoes – and since they all start with the letter “C”, we will call them the 4 C’s of volcanoes.

I mentioned seeing a crater at the beginning of this article.  That’s our first “C”. When you think of a crater, features on the moon or made by meteorites  are probably the first things to come to mind.  Volcanic craters usually have a vent inside that lava and other volcanic debris comes out of.  Not all volcanic craters are at the top of the volcano –  some happen along the sides of the mountain as well.  The second “C”, is called a caldera, and is very similar to a crater.  A caldera is a crater that collapsed into its magma chamber, making it much larger.  Compared to a crater, a caldera usually has steeper sides and a flatter bottom.

Scoria – “cinder cones” or “scoria cones” are made of this type of bubbly lava rock. Public domain photo from WikiMedia Commons

Cones are another amazing feature of volcanoes.  They are made of volcanic debris piling up.  Spatter cones are made of a bunch of thin, wet clots of lava that splat when they hit the ground.  As the lava gets splattered up in one place, it creates a little pile, called a spatter cone.  There are other types of cones as well.  Ash cones are made of piles of volcanic ash, that have wide crater at the top.  Then there are cinder cones, which are made of a bubbly lava rock called scoria – this is the same type of lava rock you would find in gardens and landscaping.   These cinder cones also have a crater, but their piles and craters are more narrow than ash cones.

The final “C” of volcanoes is columns.  Sometimes cooling lava will crack in a special pattern of columns.  These columns look like hexagon (six-sided) shaped logs stacked side by side.  Although the most common shape is a hexagon, columns with anywhere between three and eight sides can be created in different situations.  They look like pillars all squished together when they stand upright, or stacked logs when they are sideways.  It all just depends on where the heat is coming from and where the lava can let off some steam.  We find these columns all throughout the rock record, including in the Grand Canyon.  Some people say that they have actually watched these columns forming as the lava cooled quickly.

Basalt Columns – basically the same as lava columns formed through cracking in a hexagon shape while cooling. Copyright free photo from pixabay.com

That’s one of the most incredible things about Hawaii – seeing geology in action.  Hawaii is a great reminder of how young our earth really is.  Quick, dramatic spurts of volcanic eruptions can dramatically change the landscape.  People will often point to the very same types of formations we see on Hawaii and claim that they took long periods of time to form or that they are millions of years old, like the rock columns on the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  Humans have witnessed many small-scale disasters on Hawaii and other volcanoes.  Some  have been able to take pictures or even videos of these things in action.  Those small-scale disasters are just leftovers after the global flood that would have included lots of volcanic activity.  While people may point to radioisotope rock dating as “proof” that other volcanic rock formations are very old, those dates are not very reliable.  Lava from Hawaii that people saw erupting in 1800 was tested for radioisotopes and it came back with a supposed minimum age of 160 million years.   We know that’s not the case for this lava, so why trust it to tell us dates of lava?

Volcanoes are also a solemn reminder of how quickly things can change.  Don’t take your life for granted.  Don’t take your future for granted.  Do you know what your life’s purpose is?  Do you know what will happen when you die? What if you lost everything tomorrow?  The Bible has the answers about geology, the global flood, and the age of the earth, but it also has the answers to all the most important questions of life.  And so much more than just answers for your mind, but also a life-long relationship for your soul.

©2017 Sara J. Mikkelson

References:

  • Marshark, Stephen.  Earth: Portrait of a Planet. , Third Edition. 2008. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • Hazlett, Richard. Hyndman, Donald.  Roadside Geology of Hawaii. 1996.  Sixth printing, April 2015.  Mountain Press Publishing Company.  Missoula, Montana.  USA
  • Wolfe, Edward W. Morris, Jean.  Geologic Map of the Island of Hawaii.  Paper made to accompany map I-2524-A.  U. S. Geological Survey.  Department of the Interior.
  • Walker, Tas. A Giant Cause: The Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland: colossal volcanic eruptions during Noah’s Flood. Creation Magazine. 27(2). March 2005. Pgs. 28–34.  Retrieved 5-11-17 http://creation.com/a-giant-cause

Hawaii Rocks!

Thurston Lava Tubes entrance at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Photo copyright Creation Clues – David & Sara Mikkelson

Gentle jungle noises of birds and bugs faded as I walked into the large, damp cavern.   Green-tinted light reflecting off the dark rain forest canopy suddenly turned into the darkness of a cave with black walls, lit only with the occasional yellow glow of a man-made light.  The stillness of the cave was suddenly broken by the noise of a large group of tourists coming in behind me. I overheard someone ask their tour guide a question:

“How long did it take to make this cave?  Who made it?”

 

“Just hours to make it . . .  None of this is man-made.  All the lava tubes were made by lava flows” The tour guide replied.

Lava tubes are caves made by lava flows of a volcano.  They are made by a special type of lava flow. There’s a lot of variety in different types of lava and volcanic rock. Many factors come into play for the making of a lava rock, but the chemistry of the magma is the most important.  Magma and lava are the same thing – only we use the term “magma” when it’s underground and “lava” when it’s on the surface. As hot magma makes its way to the surface, it melts and mixes with other rock in the way.  Sometimes the surrounding rock melts into the magma, and other times it will leave partially melted edges in the rock or a chunk of that older rock will get carried away with the magma.

This melting and mixing of rock in between the magma and its exit will change the chemistry of the magma.  Geologists call this “magma evolution”.  Remember that the word “evolution” just means “change” – the magma changes have absolutely nothing to do with molecules turning into people.  On volcanoes like Mount St. Helens based on land, the magma has to go through a lot of continental rock, that contains a lot of quartz and other minerals rich in silica. This change in the magma makes for a very explosive eruption and generally relatively light colored lava rocks.

Mount Saint Helens erupting – public domain photo

Now take a look at Hawaii – since this group of volcanoes forms in the ocean, it goes through a different type of rock.  This oceanic rock is heavier than continental rock.  It doesn’t have much quartz or other silica, and instead has more iron and other metals in its chemistry.  Hawaiian volcanoes have a different style of eruption – these eruptions are still very dangerous, but the lava flows more like a flood, rather than exploding like Mount St. Helens.  Hawaiian volcanic rock is usually darker and heavier.  It really makes a lot of sense if you think about it.  Imagine hitting against glass – it may stand firm for a while, but with enough pressure it will shatter. However, if you did the same thing to a sheet of metal, it would bend and warp.  Volcanoes like Mount St. Helens explode because that rock and the magma underneath it has silica in it, like glass, while Hawaii has a lot of “bendable” metal in it (Read Birth of Hawaii to learn about the formation of this island chain).

Flowing pahoehoe lava
Public domain copyright free image from pixabay.com

Today, let’s explore two of the different types of rocks made by flowing lava in Hawaii.  They both have originally Hawaiian names – “Pahoehoe” (pronounced “pa-hoy-hoy”) and “’A’a” (pronounced like “Ah! Ah!”, as if you were expressing pain).  These two types of rocks actually have the same chemistry, but there are a few things that make them different. Pahoehoe is very smooth and runny.  It looks a little like a boiling pot of thick, creamy soup.  This is the stuff that really “oozes” and creates flowing rivers of lava.  Pahoehoe creates lava tubes when a flowing “stream” of lava is exposed to the air, which hardens the top and sides of the stream, creating a hard crust or skin.  Inside, this leaves a nice insulated tunnel that lava can keep flowing though and not be exposed to the air that would “freeze” it into solid rock.   Once the lava stops flowing, it sometimes leaves an empty lava tube.  Many of these are very large and look a lot like caves.

While pahoehoe is runny and smooth, ‘a’a is very jagged and bumpy.  If you walk on it, it can easy tear up shoes because the surface is so sharp, unlike smooth Pahohoe. The name “a’a” can remind you of a person walking in pain and crying “Ah! Ah!” as they walk along the sharp, jagged surface.  Just like bubbling soda contains carbon dioxide gas, lava also contains carbon dioxide and other gasses, like water vapor.  Pahoehoe has more gas and is hotter than ‘a’a.  While pahohoe flows, ‘a’a lava flows move in more of a “lumping”   and rolling motion.  Below are a couple of short YouTube videos showing real pahoehoe and ‘a’a lava in motion.

Inside the Thurston Lava Tubes

Lava can teach us a lot about stubbornness.  Do you ever struggle with stubbornness? I certainly do.  Lava is a good reminder to me that I want to be more like Pahoehoe of Hawaii and less like exploding lava rock of Mount St. Helens.  The more stiff and stubborn I am, the more I hurt those around me.  I can still be determined and make a difference, changing the landscape around me if I choose to do it more gently, like Hawaiian Pahoehoe.  So how can we change what kind of “lava” comes out of our hearts? The same way magma changes before it reaches the surface – by melting and absorbing the right things.  The Word and character of God are the best things we can absorb in our hearts, before our magma of thoughts and ideas ever reach the surface as actions and words. May you absorb more of Him and His Word every day and learn to be more like Pahohoe.

©2017 Sara J. Mikkelson

Read previous article about Hawaii: Hawaii – All Three Types of Science

References:

  • Marshark, Stephen.  Earth: Portrait of a Planet. , Third Edition. 2008. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • Hazlett, Richard. Hyndman, Donald.  Roadside Geology of Hawaii. 1996.  Sixth printing, April 2015.  Mountain Press Publishing Company.  Missoula, Montana.  USA
  • Video: “CSAV Hawaii: Pahoehoe on the Pali”. Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes.  University of Hawaii at Hilo.  Retrieved 5-3-17. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zVSWQrCgcM
  • Video: “CSAV Hawaii: Volcanic Eruption with Aa”. Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes. University of Hawaii at Hilo. Retrieved 5-3-17. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9iW_oXMBB8

Hawaii – All Three Types of Science

The author by the rolls of recent lava flows, spotted with a little foliage

The luscious green canopy of trees suddenly turned into a desert-like terrain.  Shiny black landscape glistened in the mid-day sunlight.  Rolling, lumpy black land stretched on for many miles. The light dotting of trees and small shacks soon disappeared.  It was hot and dusty along the road.  Looking around, on one side I could see the ocean stretching out on the horizon, as the land ended abruptly in cliffs.  On the other side, the black, hardened billows of hardened lava rolled down the side of the volcano, frozen in its tracks.  The road ahead promised more miles of this yet to come.  Walking along the hardened lava flows, what struck me the most was their young age.  Fifty years ago, these rocks I was standing on did not exist.

Hawaii is a truly incredible place where we can see the science of geology in action.  Here, we can vividly see all three main types of science in action.  These three types of science are 1) observational science, 2) historical science, and 3) predictions.  Let’s explore each of these on the Hawaiian Islands

1) Observational Science

This is a scientific rain gauge – used to make precise observations

This is basically using our senses to gather information about the world around us.  Any time we see, hear, touch, smell, or taste something using our five senses, we are making an observation.  Of course, our senses can be a bit limited (we can’t touch the stars and it’s hard to feel when it’s exactly 75.23° F outside) so we also use many tools to stretch our sensing ability.  We use telescopes, thermometers, radars, and countless other tools that help us observe things.  Observations are the hard facts of science.  These facts are repeatable and testable.  People have actually  seen flowing lava in Hawaii and taken pictures of it in action.  There is so much we can observe about the geology of Hawaii –  seismologists can measure earthquakes and see how they relate to eruptions. The Big Island is still an active volcano, and we can see the next volcano forming southwest of Hawaii, still underwater.  They call it Lo’ihi.

2) Historical Science

Lava in the process of hardening

This type of science isn’t as black & white as observational science.  While we can measure and observe volcanoes on the Big Island today, all the other Hawaiian islands are extinct volcanoes. We were not there to observe those volcanoes (or at least, not in the way we make scientific observations on the Big Island today).   This is where “educated guess” work comes in.  It’s where science and history start to blend, and each person’s world view, or basic beliefs, have a big influence.  To some extent, we can “guess” that some things happening on Hawaii today must have happened to the other islands, but we weren’t there to actually observe it and the farther back in history we go, the less reliable our guesses are. Most of the ages you will hear of Hawaii are way over estimated – there are many good reasons to be skeptical of the radioisotope dating methods used on Hawaiian rocks (read more about radioisotope dating here). To learn more about the history and formation of Hawaii, you can read our previous article Birth of Hawaii

3) Predictions

Similar to historical science, predictions try to “stretch” observations, only prediction tries to guess what will happen in the future based off what we observe happening in the present. The best part about predictions is that we can test them by making new observations when the time comes, like testing weather predictions.  For example, seismologists can predict how soon a new eruption will happen.  An example of long-term prediction is about the development or extinction of Hawaiian volcanoes. On the Big Island, newer lava rock has a slightly different chemistry than some of the previous lava flows.  Since that chemistry looks more similar to the chemistry of the rocks on the older volcanoes, geologists think that the Big Island volcanoes are working toward becoming extinct and getting replaced with an “upcoming” island, Lo’ihi. This is a prediction, or a “guess” we can make based on observations.  Like historical science, some prediction models are good and others are not.

The two active volcanoes of the Big Island (Mauna Loa & Kilauea) and the building, upcoming volcano, Lo’ihi, still under water

On Hawaii, we can practice all three types of science – we can observe things happening in the present and make educated guesses about the past and future.  Much as we would like to know everything about the past and future, we really are only given today.  Scientists are merely groups of people, and science is a lot like life – all you have is today.  Memories of the past are limited and we tend to forget things over time.   We can make guesses and assume things about the future, but we aren’t promised tomorrow and never know when life will include some major changes. If you have a relationship with the Lord of all, God will give you the grace you need for each day – worrying about the future or regretting the past is worse than “educated guess” historical science and predictions.  Worrying about scientific, political, or personal predictions and history brings to mind the words of the old hymn, Day By Day, reminding us that the Lord gives us whatever we need for each day

“ . . . as thy days, thy strength shall be in measure” ~ Day By Day

©2017, Sara J. Mikkelson

References:

  • Hazlett, Richard. Hyndman, Donald.  Roadside Geology of Hawaii. 1996.  Sixth printing, April 2015.  Mountain Press Publishing Company.  Missoula, Montana.  USA
  • Hymn: “Day By Day”. Words: Karolina Wilhelmina Sandell-Berg, 1865; translated from Swedish to English by Andrew L. Skoog (1856-1934). Based off 2 Corinthians 4:16 and Deuteronomy 33:25.  Music: “Blott en Dag,” Oskar Ahnfelt, 1872

Birth of Hawaii

Flying into the Island of Hawaii – notice the volcano peak amid the clouds. Copyright Mikkelson 2017

“Look!  There’s the island!  Which volcano do you think that is?”  I wondered, noticing a mountain peak poking through the layer of clouds as I looked out of the small plane window.  We were in the Hawaiian islands, headed towards the Big Island of Hawaii, where we would be staying right next to an active volcano.  It was an amazing place.  One minute, we could be in a tropical rain forest, and suddenly it would turn into a giant deserted field of black lava rock.  Although some areas of the island have soft sandy beaches, others have dramatic sea cliffs where lava flows into the ocean.

When many people think of Hawaii, they think of a paradise, much like the Garden of Eden in the Bible.  But, unlike the Garden of Eden, these islands are the result of catastrophic forces and a dramatic, fiery origin.  Many aspects of Hawaii, like the lush plants, beautiful waterfalls, and incredible creatures point us back to the splendor and careful design of our Creator, God.  However, the Hawaiian islands are there today because of the global, catastrophic flood, sent as God’s righteous judgement for the sin of mankind.

Hawii sea cliffs at sunset. Copyright Mikkelson, 2017.

There is still a lot of mystery surrounding the geology of Hawaii.  Although we know that the global flood was catastrophic, the Bible gives less information about how exactly it happened, scientifically speaking.  This means that many of the details of the geology of the flood depend on which scientific model a person is using.  There are several scientific models that try to explain how exactly the flood happened.  Every good model will have it’s strong points and weak points.  The more information we gather by doing science, the more we can narrow out some of those models, testing which ones are most likely to be true.  Keeping that in mind, here’s what we can tell so far about how Hawaii formed.

Evidence shows that earth’s surface is made up of plates that move on top of the hot mantle. Lots of earthquakes, volcanoes, mountains, etc. form around the edges of these plates.  But, Hawaii is in the middle of a big plate, far from the plate boundaries that cause most volcanoes. Hawaii is actually part of a chain of seamounts that meet with the Emperor Sea Mounts and reach all the way to the Aleutian islands of Alaska.  The Big Island of Hawaii is the largest and is volcanically active, while the other islands are extinct volcanoes and get progressively smaller, the farther northwest on the chain of seamounts.  The current theory is that there is a plume of hot magma welling up in the mantle, creating a volcano on the outer plate of earth’s surface.  As that plate moves, the hot spot stays in place beneath it, creating a new volcano right next to the previous one.  The hot spot idea has a few problems and is being debated among scientists, but this model seems to be the best fit for Hawaii until we have more information.

This idea would also work well with the global flood. Although Earth’s plates move slowly today, they would have moved much faster in the past during, and for a short time after, the global flood.  The chain of seamounts over the Hawaiian hot spot probably started forming some time towards the end of the flood, when the plates were moving quickly.  The plates would have continued moving quickly for a little while after the flood, slowing down to the current speed of plate movement.  Hawaii must have formed a short while after the flood.

Hawaiian Volcano From Pixabay.com – Copyright free image

Measuring from the seafloor to the peak Mauna Kea (the tallest volcano on the Big Island), Hawaii is 6.3 miles high, which is taller than Mount Everest, measuring from sea level to the peak.  It’s a powerful, but normally quite active volcano.  Although Hawaii is stunningly beautiful, it was formed as a fiery volcano from the aftermath of the flood – God’s judgement.  In places like Hawaii, we can see the grace of God stunningly illustrated. Hawaii was definitely not part of God’s “very good” original creation.  But, our gracious Creator took a messy situation – the flood of judgement – and turned it into something beautiful.  No matter how much you’ve messed up, remember that God’s grace can turn your life into a new and beautiful creation, just like Hawaii.

© 2017 Sara J. Mikkelson

References: