Geology, the Sphinx, and the Bible
Published: 25 August 2013 (GMT+10)
It can seem strange to use the Bible as the fundamental dating tool for geological events in the past. However, it is a solid starting point. In today’s feedback geologists Dr Tas Walker and Dr Emil Silvestru discuss the perils and uncertainties of geology, and how the Bible serves as a solid basis for geology.
Wikimedia commons/selbst gemacht
Justyn S. from Australia writes:
Dear CMI, I read with interest all of the articles you publish on both your website and your Facebook page and have noticed that although there is much criticism of dating methods used by evolutionists, there doesn’t seem to be any mention of attempts to date fossils/rocks using any other method than the bible. The primary criticism of evolutionists is that they do not have a “start date” from which to extrapolate but using the bible we do, both for the creation of the world and for the flood events. Shouldn’t that make testing, evidence gathering and case building rather simple? Or is it a case of testing methods being inaccurate over realistic time frames? Kind regards and God bless you in your ministry! Justyn.
CMI’s Dr TasWalker responds:
There are a number of tests that have been done that produce results that are consistent with the biblical age of the earth. If you search creation.com for “RATE zircon helium” you will find a test that gave an age of some 5,000 years. Also search for “carbon 14 diamonds” or “carbon 14” and you will find other examples. These methods, like all such methods, depend on assumptions and you can never take the answer as absolutely certain without checking the result with something else. Certainly, those who believe in an old earth do not accept them but argue about the assumptions.
The historical method is the only way to reliably know the age of something. You know your age through that method, whereby your date of birth was observed by eyewitnesses and recorded in a document. When you have such a document no-one would ever doubt that date or consider it necessary to confirm the date by carbon-14 or some other method that depends on unprovable assumptions.
Based on the history in the Bible we know that the Flood occurred some 4,300 years ago, and that creation occurred some 6,000 years ago.
The relative timing of geological events during and after the Flood can be determined by the normal principles of geology. This gives the general order but the actual absolute times are determined from the historical account in the Bible (e.g. The Great Artesian Basin, Australia and Looking into the Glass House Mountains, Australia (see the second figure in the article with the timing of the various events)).
All the best,
Byron L. United States writes:
Dear Sirs, I was wondering if you ever gave an “official” response about Robert Shoch’s understanding of “water weathering” (he is a geologist) that caused the GREAT SPHINX in CAIRO, EGYPT to be dated at least 10,000 years ago, due to the fact that there was no water in and around 3,000 BC. (according to him.) Could Robert Shoch have somehow overlooked the data for THE GREAT FLOOD that would have made his understanding more complete?
Wikimedia commons/Mstyslav Chernov
[I know John A. West has bought into his understanding and incorporated it in his presentation of the age of the Sphinx.] Have you ever had an official paper on this subject? Thanking you in advance, I remain, Byron L.
Dr Emil Silvestru responds:
Thanks for your inquiry which brings up a fascinating topic. To my knowledge no-one at CMI has written extensively on the subject of the age of the Sphinx and I suspect the reason is caution: there are so many theories out there, including fringe ones.
I will try to provide my personal input, based on my geological and karstological knowledge as well as the published data and theories.
There seems to be no study done by the ones who would have the best insight of all specialists: karstologists. All the studies are done by ‘geologists’ and engineers and that is to me a reason to question many of their statements and conclusions (since I am a karstologist). It is surprising that the word “karst” is missing from these studies, yet the most important rock in this discussion is limestone. What is also missing from this debate is cosmogenic radioisotope dating (which can date recent reliefs).
Finally, there is nothing I could find about the nature and properties of the sand in which the Sphinx was buried most of the time.
My opinion is that the Sphinx’s limestone corrosion (mostly of karsting type) occurred mostly under the sand and it could have happened in hundreds of years, with the proper chemical setting. I could find no satisfactory information regarding this setting and I suspect it has simply been ignored because being a geologist does not necessarily cover the intimate and complex karsting processes.
For example, as a karstologist, I couldn’t disagree more with Harrell’s dismissal of the Nile flooding in the subsurface corrosion of the limestone.That is because rivers that flow through and over limestone create an extensive lateral aquifer, and any flooding would cause a rise of the water table in the sand and implicitly in the limestone. Acidity could easily build up from the Nile toward the pyramids and Sphinx because of the chemical contents of the sand.
As a conclusion, I see no reason to connect the Sphinx ‘weathering’ with higher precipitation climate of distant past (or, according to other specialists more recent past). Karsting, some wind erosion, and periodic rains could have done the work since the Sphinx was buried in sand in historical, post-Flood times.
I hope this helps a bit. Please write again if there is more I can help with.
Emil Silvestru, PhD (geology)
I read a newspaper article on this some years ago, and as I recall, it was the condition of the edge of the pit around the Sphinx and not the Sphinx itself that was the focus of the argument for a 10,000 year age of the Sphinx. It was claimed that the edge of the pit was water-weathered (it appears to be), and that this could not have occurred more recently than 10,000 years ago. However, this was assuming a uniformitarian history of climate in North Africa. If, as we believe, there was an ice age after the Genesis flood, the climate of North Africa would have been wetter, and it is my understanding that there are good indications that this was indeed the case. For example, a National Geographic article some years ago showcased carvings of animals in rocks in the Sahara desert where no one lives today because there is no water there today. Alas, I don't recall the date of that issue of N.G., which claimed great antiquity for these carvings also. However, the carvings do not exhibit much wind weathering, which one would expect if they were many thousands of years old. Therefore, it would seem likely that they were carved relatively recently and that would indicate that the area was inhabited fairly recently, which would indicate that the climate in North Africa was wetter much more recently than the impossible 10,000 years (From the Bible we can establish that the Earth is about 6,000 years old, an age now buttressed by real science). Therefore it is a reasonable assumption that the Sphinx pit was water weathered in the last several thousand years, during the time of the post-Genesis flood ice age. Perhaps Mike Oard would like to comment on this, as I believe he has done work on post-Genesis flood climate in North Africa. Bottom line: the Sphinx is not 10,000 years old.
I am so glad to hear Dr. Silvestru bring karsting into the conversation of dating processes.
First, nothing on this earth is 10,000 years old.
What a global flood did, an ice age, glaciering, karsting, acidity and roughly 6,500 years of time with varying climatological affects, is only verifiable by the information provided by the creator of ALL of the above AND everything else. We can ONLY trust the Word of that creator GOD, and it is a sure Word. All of science changes as we go, and the adjectives describing it are theory, assumption, hypothesis, etc. Note the total confidence God writes with. Further, He never theorizes. Why should we?